ASHA Advocate: February 15, 2024

February 15, 2024

The Top Line

Congress continues to push back key funding and policy decisions, raising the possibility of a government shutdown. Meanwhile, presidential politics further complicate an already challenging political landscape. In addition to resignations, absences, and an expulsion that have narrowed the House GOP’s already slim majority, it’s likely that chaos, dysfunction, and paralysis will remain constants this congressional session.

Despite these hurdles, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) continues to build bipartisan support in both federal and state chambers for key policy priorities. Trending topics in the states include regulation of assistants, bans on DEI in higher education, coverage of audiology and speech-language pathology services, licensure reciprocity—including the ASLP-IC—and telehealth.

Stay up to date and get involved by:

Continued Push to Stop Medicare Payment Cuts

ASHA is intensifying efforts to stop unsustainable payment cuts for Medicare outpatient services that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented at the start of the year. We recently met with top Senate leadership and committee staff to implore Congress to both stop the cuts and enhance future payments to account for claims that already have been processed at the lower rate. Take action to tell Congress to fix this problem now.

Help Stop Cuts

Help Update Medicare Payment!

Help update Medicare payment for audiology and speech-language pathology services by participating in the clinician practice information (CPI) survey beginning later this month. Randomly selected audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in private and group practices will receive an email from Mathematica, the survey administrator, to participate in the CPI survey. This effort will collect updated and accurate data on practice costs, which are a key element of clinician payment. This information has not been updated in over 15 years! Real-world input is critically important to collect current data to ensure accurate payment for your services. Visit ASHA's website for more information.

Empowering School-Based Members to Engage with Unions

We recently hosted a Virtual Town Hall with the National Education Association (NEA) and 355 ASHA members. During the event, school-based members heard union success stories from their peers, asked a variety of questions, shared ideas with panelists and each other, and learned about the many resources available to them. Some of the main topics of interest included adequate workspace, caseload management, compensation, inclusion in bargaining language, Right-to-Work strategies for practice-based advocacy, and workload responsibilities. To keep the conversations going, we created "Engaging with Unions in Schools" within the ASHA Community, which is open to all ASHA members to join. The recording of the Town Hall is also available on our website.

Working for You

  • Submitted a letter [PDF] requesting CMS add key audiology and speech-language pathology services to Medicare’s permanent telehealth services list in 2025. Most of the same services are currently on Medicare’s temporary telehealth services list through December 31, 2024. ASHA urged CMS to add these codes to the permanent list in preparation for potential Congressional action to provide permanent access to audiology and speech-language pathology telehealth services.
  • Reached out directly to Blue Cross Blue Shield staff to discuss and clarify updates to their Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) requiring prior authorization for hearing aids. We will provide additional information to ASHA members as they become available.
  • Submitted comments [PDF] in response to a proposed rule on the independent dispute resolutions (IDR) process under the No Surprises Act (NSA). The rule proposes updates that would facilitate improved communications between payers, providers, and certified IDR entities.
  • Signed onto a coalition letter [PDF] and submitted our own letter [PDF] in support of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (H.R. 7153/S. 3679), which would renew a federal program that provides grants to establish, enhance, or expand evidence-informed programs or protocols to promote the mental health of health care providers.


    "Advocacy is important to me because it gives you the power to go from spectator to player and help shape the narrative."

    Arynn S. Byrd, MA, CCC-SLP
    Chair, Government Affairs and Public Policy Board

    Aaryn Byrd

    ASHA Corporate Partners