President Biden has signed legislation (H.R. 2471) into law that includes several provisions that ASHA advocated for:
- Extension of temporary authority for audiologists and SLPs to provide services through telehealth under Medicare after the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) expires.
- Increased funding for special education.
- Requirement for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address disparities in pediatric hearing health care.
- Enhanced federal support for Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) and rehabilitation research.
- Requirement for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to report on and prioritize research into the hearing needs of older adults.
Below are some details from H.R. 2471 that impact audiologists, SLPs, and those we serve.
The new law includes a 151-day extension for audiologists and SLPs to continue providing services through telehealth to Medicare beneficiaries after the COVID-19 PHE expires. The PHE is scheduled to end on April 16, 2022.
- ASHA is urging congressional leaders to provide a longer extension or make audiologists and SLPs permanent Medicare telehealth providers before any such authority lapses.
- Take action now to support those efforts.
Special Education: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Significant increases were made for IDEA initiatives to support special education services for the remainder of FY 2022.
- $13.3 billion for IDEA Part B (state grants), an increase of $406.2 million over the previous level.
- $409.5 million for IDEA Section 619 (preschool grants), an increase of $11.9 million over the previous level.
- $496.3 million for IDEA Part C (infants and toddlers), an increase of $14.4 million over the previous level.
Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI)
Funding for EHDI programs was provided at the current level to ensure continued newborn hearing screening and follow up services. However, ASHA advocated for additional supports to address disparities in pediatric hearing health care and that directive was included in the law.
- $17.8 million, the same as FY 2021, for the Health Resources & Services Administration to fund state-based programs that facilitate screening, ensure timely audiological diagnostic evaluations, and connect families with crucial early intervention services.
- $10.7 million, the same as FY 2021, for CDC to provide technical assistance on data collection, management, and research to state based EHDI programs.
- Directs CDC to address disparities in pediatric hearing health care by expanding its work to improve surveillance of early hearing detection and intervention systems to ensure access to timely identification of congenital and acquired hearing loss and develop materials to enhance connection to follow up services among racial and ethnic minorities, and other medically underserved populations.
CSD and Rehabilitation Research
- $514.8 million for the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, an increase of $16 million over the previous level.
- $116.4 million for the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, a $3.5 million increase over the previous level.
- Directs NIH to provide an update on research across its Institutes related to hearing screenings for older adults and prioritize funding to address research needs.
Contact Jerry White, ASHA's director of federal and political affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.