MSHA members in action.

Advocacy Day set for February 2, 2017

MSHA’s annual Advocacy Day is scheduled for February 2nd. Come and interact with your fellow MSHA members, students and state legislators!  We will be in Helena at the Capital from 11 am to 1 pm.  Follow us on facebook for more information!

If you need to connect with our political action committee regarding state or national legislative issues, please email Jessica Reynolds at mshapoliticalaction@gmail.com.

MSHA will maintain attention on the following bills, which we have been involved in writing or for which we have already testified:

1. HB141: Provide licensing boards with active supervision in antitrust liability cases: this bill passed the House and has been transmitted to the Senate for a committee hearing (TBA). There have been some minor amendments, but none significantly impact implementation of the bill.

2. LC2249: Provide for limited speech-language pathologist or audiologist license. The bill is ready for delivery and has not yet been assigned an HB number.

We will also follow these bills.

1. HB31: An act increasing the special education allowable cost payment; providing an appropriate; and providing an effective date. This bill was tabled in committee.

2. HB32: Revise school funding related to special education. This bill was tabled in committee

3. HB33: An act revising funding for special education; increasing and revising the distribution of the special education allowable cost payment; etc. This bill was tabled in committee

4. HB191: Provide inflationary increase for ANB funding. The bill received a hearing in House Appropriations yesterday (1/17/17), but I do not see if a vote has been recorded.

5. LC0165: Increase funding for special education cooperatives. This bill is ready for delivery and has not yet been assigned an HB number.

6.HB253/LC0166: Inflationary increase for special education allowable cost of payment. This bill passed it’s House committee hearing and received it’s first (of 3) readings in the House.

7. LC0256: Provide for licensing of board certified behavior analysts. This bill is ready for delivery and has not yet been assigned an SB number.

8. LC0822: Change the opt-in for TBI to an opt-out on vehicle registration forms. This bill is ready for delivery and has not yet been assigned an HB number.

9. LC1467: Reform Medicaid. The bill has not yet been drafted.

10. LC1743: Generally revise Medicaid laws. The bill has not yet been drafted.

11. LC1768 & LC1776: Generally revise HELP act. LC1768 is ready for delivery and has not yet been assigned an HB number. LC1776 has not yet been drafted.

12. LC1974: Generally revise education laws regarding pre-kindergarten. The bill has not yet been drafted.

13. LC2081: Revise laws related to requirements for teachers of deaf students. The bill has not yet been drafted.

14. LC2089: Generally revise telemedicine laws. This bill has been taken off hold and has not yet been drafted.

MCASE Advocacy Talking Points 12-13-16 (1)

 

2017 Legislature is now underway! Here’s a list of Bills MSHA is watching!

2017 Session of the Montana Legislature
Bill Summaries
Prepared for MSHA by Jessica Reynolds
Updated: 1/6/17

HB17/ LC0280
Title: Increase HCBS waiver slots and assisted living reimbursement rates
Sponsor: Ron Ehli (HD86)
Status: (H) Referred to Committee — (H) Human Services
Summary: Increase the number of residential slots available for home and community-based Medicaid services waiver by 200 over the next 2 years. It also increases the daily reimbursement rate over the same period.

HB31/ LC0297
Title: An act increasing the special education allowable cost payment; providing an appropriate; and providing an effective date.
Sponsor: Kathy Kelker (D) HD 47
Status: (H) Referred to Committee — (H) Education; Hearing on 1/9/17
Summary: Allocate money to OPI for increasing SpEd allowable cost payment; $587,620 in FY 2018 and $1,065,895 in FY 2019.

HB32/ LC0298
Title: Revise school funding related to special education
Sponsor: Kathy Kelker (D) HD 47
Status: (H) Referred to Committee — (H) Education; Hearing on 1/9/17
Summary: increase funding to special education cooperatives and joint boards for administration and travel and increasing overall special education allowable cost payment ($2,587,620 in FY 2018; $3,087,895 in FY2019).

HB33/ LC0299
Title: An act revising funding for special education; increasing and revising the distribution of the special education allowable cost payment; etc
Sponsor: Kathy Kelker (D) HD 47
Status: (H) Referred to Committee — (H) Education; Hearing on 1/9/17
Summary: increase funding to special education cooperatives and joint boards for administration and travel and increasing overall special education allowable cost payment ($2,000,000 in FY 2018 and FY2019).

HB36/ LC0279
Title: Fund Alzheimer’s related services provided by area agencies on aging
Sponsor: Gordon Pierson (D) HD 78
Status: (H) Referred to Committee — (H) Human Services
Summary: provide $1,500,000 to DPHHS to be used for care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (e.g. respite care, in-home and community-based services, providing training for family members, etc.).

HB81/ LC0348
Title: Revise publication and distribution requirements for MAR and ARM
Sponsor: Willis Curdy (D) HD 98
Status: (H) Referred to Committee — (H) State Administration
Summary: the Secretary of State will electronically publish the ARM
HB141/ LC0392
Title: Provide licensing boards with active supervision in antitrust liability cases
Sponsor: Ryan Lynch (D) HD 76
Status: (H) Business and Labor; Hearing on 1/9/17, amendment proposed by MMA (Abby will elaborate)
Summary: provide active supervision to bring Montana state board in accordance with recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings

HB178/LC0161
Title: Provide ANB funding for 19 year olds
Sponsor: Mary Moe (SD12)
Status: (H) Referred to Committee — (H) Education
Summary: change admittance to school to 5 years of age on or before September 10th, A pupil who has not reached 20 years of age by September 10 of the school year, who has not graduated, and who is enrolled for the purpose of earning credits to meet the district’s graduation requirements for a high school diploma may be included in the ANB calculations

HB191/LC2267
Title: Provide inflationary increase for ANB funding
Sponsor: Seth Berglee (R) HD 58
Status: (H) Hearing — (H) Education; Hearing on 1/11/17
Summary: Provide inflationary adjustment for ANB funding (e.g. $300,000 per to $309,000 per year

HJ1/ LC0301
Title: Request study of funding for education programs for special needs students
Sponsor: Kathy Kelker (D) HD 47
Status: (H) Referred to Committee — (H) Education
Summary: establish an interim committee to study best practices, funding, etc for special needs, gifted and talented children, and at-risk students in Montana

LC0013
Title: Repeal Montana Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership Act
Sponsor: Bob Keenan (SD5)
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0024-0025
Title: Generally revise healthcare laws
Sponsor: Edward Buttrey (SD11)
Status: Drafts on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0058
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Cary Smith (SD27)
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0080-LC0083
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Mary Caferro (SD41)
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0147
Title: Revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Jim Keane (HD73)
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0163
Title: Increase K-12 BASE aid
Sponsor: Jill Cohenour (SD42)
Status: Draft ready for delivery
Summary: Increase overall ANB in Montana (e.g. from $300,000 per year to $309,000 per year)

LC0164
Title: Allow ANB funding for students with disabilities up to age 22
Sponsor: Moffie Funk (D) HD 82
Status: Draft ready for delivery
Summary: decrease school admittance age to 5 on or before September 10th, allow students with disabilities on special education services and who have not yet graduated to be included in ANB calculations up to age 22

LC0165
Title: Increase funding for special education cooperatives
Sponsor: Moffie Funk (HD82)
Status: Draft ready for delivery
Summary: increase proportion of special education funds to special education cooperatives and joint boards for administration and travel, increase funding by $2,000,000 for special education in FY2018 and FY2019

LC0166
Title: Inflationary increase for special education allowable cost of payment
Sponsor: Moffie Funk (HD82)
Status: Draft ready for delivery
Summary: include special education allowable cost payment in overall education inflationary increases

LC0251
Title: Generally revise laws regarding disabilities
Sponsor: Mary Caferro (SD41)
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0253
Title: Generally revise healthy Montana kid laws
Sponsor: Mary Caferro (SD41)
Status: Draft to requester for review
Summary: Not available

LC0256
Title: Provide for licensing of board certified behavior analysts
Sponsor: Mary Caferro (SD41)
Status: Draft to requester for review
Summary: Not available

LC0529-LC0532
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Mary Caferro (D) SD 41
Status: Drafts on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0584
Title: Interim study resolution on developmental disabilities
Sponsor: Mary Caferro (D) SD 41
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC0596
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Pat Connell (R) SD 43
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC0665
Title: Generally revise medicaid laws
Sponsor: Nancy Ballance (R) HD 87
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0687
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Mary Caferro (D) SD 41
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0794-0795
Title: Revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Steve Fitzpatrick (R) SD 10
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0822
Title: Change the opt-in for TBI to an opt-out on vehicle registration forms
Sponsor: Bradley Hamlett (D) HD 23
Status: Draft ready for delivery
Summary: changes use of TBI revenues to be used for education and support recovery of individuals with TBI; changes the $1 donation to this fund given during vehicle registration to an opt-out

LC0860-0863
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Gordon Vance (R) SD 34
Status: Drafts on hold
Summary: Not available
LC0913
Title: Provide for early edge
Sponsor: Ryan Lynch (D) HD 76
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC0943
Title: Provide for Head Start funding
Sponsor: Edith (Edie) McClafferty (D) SD 38
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC0961
Title: Generally revise K-12 funding
Sponsor: Dave Fern (D) HD 5
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1055
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Ellie Hill Smith (D) HD 90
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1078
Title: Provide legislative intent for Medicaid waiver for DD services
Sponsor: Mary Caferro (D) SD 41
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1079
Title: Fund direct care worker wage increases in developmental disability services
Sponsor: Mary Caferro (D) SD 41
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1096
Title: Revise developmental disability laws
Sponsor: Ryan Lynch (D) HD 76
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1104
Title: Provide for pre-kindergarten education
Sponsor: Ryan Lynch (D) HD 76
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1280
Title: Revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Steve Fitzpatrick (R) SD 10
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1336
Title: Interim study on healthcare and health insurance costs
Sponsor: Andrea Olsen (D) HD 100
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1343
Title: Generally revise healthcare law
Sponsor: Andrea Olsen (D) HD 100
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1346 & LC1348
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Andrea Olsen (D) HD 100
Status: Drafts on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1368
Title: Generally revise K-12 education funding
Sponsor: Fred Anderson (R) HD 20
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1464
Title: Provide reimbursement parity for healthcare providers
Sponsor: Vince Ricci (R) HD 55
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1467
Title: Reform Medicaid
Sponsor: Vince Ricci (R) HD 55
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1483
Title: Generally revise healthcare laws
Sponsor: Frank Garner (R) HD 7
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1502
Title: Generally revise occupational license laws
Sponsor: Frank Garner (R) HD 7
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1515
Title: Revise laws related to access for persons with disabilities
Sponsor: Denley M Loge (R) HD 14
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1552
Title: Revise insurance laws
Sponsor: JP Pomnichowski (D) SD 33
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1609
Title: Generally revise laws related to Medicaid
Sponsor: Andrea Olsen (D) HD 100
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1615-1616
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Keith Regier (R) SD 3
Status: Drafts on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1620
Title: Generally revising laws related to EPSDT benefit
Sponsor: Mary Caferro (D) SD 41
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1670-1672
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Matt Regier (R) HD 4
Status: Drafts on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1732-1733
Title: Generally revise laws on occupations and professions
Sponsor: Casey Knudsen (R) HD 33
Status: Draft requests received
Summary: Not available

LC1738
Title: Pilot project on supported employment, training for workers with disabilities
Sponsor: Casey Schreiner (D) HD 26
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1743
Title: Generally revise Medicaid laws
Sponsor: Casey Schreiner (D) HD 26
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1768 & LC1776
Title: Generally revise HELP act
Sponsor: Tom Burnett (R) HD 67
Status: 1768: Draft to requester for review; 1776: Draft request received
Summary:

LC1786
Title: Generally revise health care
Sponsor: Geraldine Custer (R) HD 39
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1856
Title: Generally revise health care laws
Sponsor: Tom Woods (D) HD 62
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1936
Title: Revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Jim Keane (D) HD 73
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1962
Title: Generally revise Medicaid laws
Sponsor: Frederick (Eric) Moore (R) SD 19
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1966
Title: Generally revise laws concerning Medicaid expansion
Sponsor: Frederick (Eric) Moore (R) SD 19
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC1974
Title: Generally revise education laws regarding pre-kindergarten
Sponsor: Frederick (Eric) Moore (R) SD 19
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC1992
Title: Revise funding for students with disabilities
Sponsor: Jim Hamilton (D) HD 61
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC2025
Title: Revise laws related to professions and occupations
Sponsor: Derek Skees (R) HD 11
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC2046
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Jennifer Eck (D) HD 79
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC2081
Title: Revise laws related to requirements for teachers of deaf students
Sponsor: Jean Price (D) HD 24
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC2085
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Terry Gauthier (R) SD 40
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC2089
Title: Generally revise telemedicine laws
Sponsor: Kirk Wagoner (R) HD 75
Status: Draft taken off hold
Summary: Not avilable

LC2181
Title: Generally revise school funding
Sponsor: Vince Ricci (R) HD 55
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC2231
Title: Reduce medical/dental deductibility threshold to 5% of adjusted gross income
Sponsor: Brad Tschida (R) HD 97
Status: Draft to requester for review
Summary: Not available

LC2249
Title: Provide for limited speech-language pathologist or audiologist license
Sponsor: Donald W Jones (R) HD 46
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Provide the Aud-SLP licensing board the authority to issue temporary licenses to clinical fellows

LC2270
Title: Revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Steve Fitzpatrick (R) SD 10
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC2294
Title: Revise laws related to education funding
Sponsor: Edith (Edie) McClafferty (D) SD 38
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC2318
Title: Joint resolution regarding social security and medicare
Sponsor: Edith (Edie) McClafferty (D) SD 38
Status: Draft request received
Summary: Not available

LC2338
Title: Generally revise insurance laws
Sponsor: Forrest Mandeville (R) HD 57
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

LC2358
Title: Generally revising insurance laws
Sponsor: Jonathan Windy Boy (D) HD 32
Status: Draft on hold
Summary: Not available

In between sessions

We are currently working on issues related to licensure fees and telepractice rules.

The group interested in the license fee issue met with our lobbyist and attended The Economic Affairs Interim Committee meeting on April 14 and the meeting of the newly seated licensure board on April 29, 2016. No immediate action was taken at either meeting. The EAIC committee heard testimony regarding MSHA’s concerns about the cost of initial and license renewal in Montana relative to other states. There is a possiblity that legislation in the next session will address oversite of fees for all licensure boards.  At the April 29 meeting of our licensure board, we learned that the board is now trying to catch up on issues since its last meeting in December 2014.  They explained that the board incurs many costs including legal representation, training, investigation of complaints, and general business. Our fees cover these costs as well as the cost of issuing and renewing licenses. They will review and discuss fees at their fall meeting. At their June 22, 2016 meeting they will review the rules for telepractice.

2015 Legislature

The 2015 Legislative session was a success for MSHA. Thanks to the efforts of our members, advocacy day, and our lobbyist, Abigail St. Lawrence, we will able to pass SB 192. This bill allows SLPs and Audiologists to be included in the list of practitioners who can bill Evaluation and Management codes. We also advocated for several other bills that passed through the session including insurance payment for therapy for individuals with Down’s Syndrome and changes to how school districts will handle bullying. Follow us on facebook to keep up with all the latest news!

2015 Legislative Notes

VOTE IN FAVOR OF SENATE BILL NO. 192

INTRODUCED BY R. DRISCOLL

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT AMENDING HEALTH INSURANCE LAWS TO INCLUDE SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS AND AUDIOLOGISTS; AMENDING SECTION 33-22-111, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE.”

– In order to provide all patients with the best care possible, Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) need to obtain a complete case history in order to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. It is vital for SLPs and audiologists to have a clear understanding of their patients as a whole in order make a differential diagnosis and to rehabilitate their communication disorders and delays.

– Other healthcare providers are held to the same task, but are able to bill for Evaluation and Management (E&M) codes and are reimbursed by insurance companies. As the law is now, SLPs and Audiologists can legally bill for E&M codes, but patients will be responsible for that cost since insurance companies are not required to cover them because SLPs and Audiologists were not included on the Freedom of Choice Act.

– Patients currently have insurance coverage for E&M codes from other service professions such as physicians, physical therapists, acupuncturists, and many other service providers.

VOTE IN FAVOR OF HOUSE BILL NO. 451

INTRODUCED BY C. POPE

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT ALLOWING SPECIAL EDUCATION PUPILS UP TO 21 YEARS OF AGE TO BE INCLUDED IN AVERAGE NUMBER BELONGING CALCULATIONS; REVISING THE DEFINITION OF “PUPIL”; AMENDING SECTIONS 20-1-101 AND 20-9-311, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE AND AN APPLICABILITY DATE.”

– There are only 16 Comprehensive Transition Programs in the US, and none are in the northwest, so other than serving students with intellectual disabilities through age 21 in our schools, Montana families have no options.

– The focus through graduation is often on academics despite state mandate for transitions services, leaving students with disabilities less likely to live independently, obtain gainful employment, and more likely to access social systems upon graduation at age 18.

– Graduated students with disabilities that do not have independent living skills/options may require a family member to choose caregiving over employment, reducing the family income creating a need for further access of social systems.

– People with disabilities want to be employed, engaged in their community, and independent. Providing education and funding through age 21 will help them meet their potential and life goals.

VOTE IN FAVOR OF HOUSE BILL NO. 284

INTRODUCED BY K. DUDIK

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT PROMOTING SAFE SCHOOLS AND CREATING THE BULLY-FREE MONTANA ACT; PROVIDING DEFINITIONS; PROHIBITING BULLYING OF STUDENTS; REQUIRING EACH SCHOOL DISTRICT OR NONPUBLIC ACCREDITED SCHOOL TO ADOPT A POLICY ADDRESSING BULLYING; AND PROVIDING MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR THE CONTENTS OF A POLICY.”

– Offers additional support for significantly understaffed schools when addressing bullying, even though they have practices and policy in place. Practices and policy do not equate trained professionals to address the situation. Montana is a state significantly lacking in school psychologists as an example.

– Children with disabilities are often a prime target and this law would further support those who often don’t have a voice.

– Montana is the only state without a bullying law.

– Montana Safe Schools Center: “Clearly, putting an end to bullying behavior in schools is critical for ensuring the academic, social, and mental well being of our young people.”

REVIVE and VOTE IN FAVOR OF SENATE BILL NO. 55 (tabled)

INTRODUCED BY B. HAMLETT

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT REVISING THE MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY DONATION LAWS; PROVIDING FOR USE OF THE FUNDS TO EDUCATE AND SUPPORT INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES LIVING WITH TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES; CHANGING THE CONTRIBUTION TO AN AUTOMATIC DONATION WITH AN OPT-OUT PROVISION; AMENDING SECTIONS 2-15-2218 AND 61-3-303, MCA; AND PROVIDING A DELAYED EFFECTIVE DATE.”

– Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is often preventable. Education is needed to help people understand the brevity of this situation and how to protect themselves and their children.

– Between 3.2 and 5.3 million persons (1.1%-1.7% of the U.S. population) live with long-term disabilities that result from TBI. This highly preventable condition can result in life-long access to social systems due to loss of independence.

– New research is showing that TBI can lead to epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, and other brain disorders that are the result of neuro-degeneration.

– Prevention is the only cure for TBI making public education paramount.

VOTE IN FAVOR OF HB 2

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT APPROPRIATING MONEY TO VARIOUS STATE AGENCIES FOR THE BIENNIUM ENDING JUNE 30, 2017; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.”

– Amended: Funding the expansion of Autism Services at $6 million for the upcoming biennium in State Plan Medicaid. Approved a 2% provider rate increase each year for the next biennium for Medicaid. 0208 waiver approved a motion to fund 50 additional people each year of the two year budget that are currently on the waiting list.

VOTE IN FAVOR OF SB 366

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT REQUIRING THE CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM TO COVER TREATMENT OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER; AMENDING SECTION 53-4-1005, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE AND A CONTINGENT TERMINATION DATE.”

– More than 77% of children no longer needed service when provided with intense ABA (applied behavior analysis) services at a young age.

– More than 50% of the children who received the treatment were no longer symptomatic of autism.

– Ounce of Prevention.org: Arthur J. Rolnick of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis writes that, “Careful academic research demonstrates that tax dollars spent on early childhood development provide extraordinary returns compared with investments in the public, and even private, sector. The potential return from a focused, high-quality early childhood development program is as high as 16 percent per year. Some of these benefits are private gains for the children involved in the form of higher wages later in life. But the broader economy also benefits because individuals who participate in high-quality early childhood development programs have greater skills than they otherwise would, and they’re able to contribute productively to their local economies.”

– Autism services are now an entitlement and all insurances should be obligated to cover these services.

VOTE IN FAVOR OF HOUSE BILL NO. 318

INTRODUCED BY E. HILL

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT REQUIRING COVERAGE OF CERTAIN THERAPIES FOR CHILDREN WITH DOWN SYNDROME; AMENDING SECTIONS 2-18-704, 33-31-111, AND 33-35-306, MCA; AND PROVIDING A DELAYED EFFECTIVE DATE.”

– Children with Down syndrome should be afforded the same service entitlement as children with autism.

– Early intervention is key in developing a foundation that can sustain lifelong success including employment and independent living.

– Children with Down syndrome, as well as autism, will benefit from educational services extended through age 21 leading to less access of social systems, higher independence, and a feeling of belonging in our communities as a valued contributor.

Political Action

These are the ASHA Issue Briefs we will discuss with our congressmen in DC, in March. Please review them and send us any other topics you would like us to present to the offices of Sen. Daines, Sen Tester and Rep Zinke.-Janis Hayes-Strom and Jenny Nitz

Alternatives to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy

Ensure that all appropriate therapies are provided to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and that Congress not pass health care or education legislation that could have the unintended consequence of designating applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy as the sole means by which to treat ASD. Learn more about this legislation; read the full Alternatives to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy issue brief [PDF].
Congressional Hearing Health Caucus
Urge your representative to join the Hearing Health Caucus. Learn more about this legislation; read the full issue brief about the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus [PDF].

Ensure Medicare Beneficiary Access to Speech-Generating Devices (SGDs)

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) has introduced the Steve Gleason Act of 2015, H.R. 628, to allow for the immediate purchase and transfer of ownership of speech-generating devices (SGDs) to the Medicare beneficiary and remove the devices from the Medicare capped-rental requirements. The Senate is expected to introduce companion legislation in the near future. Ask your members of Congress to cosponsor this important legislation. Learn more about this legislation; read the full issue brief about Ensuring Access to SGDs [PDF].

Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit

Ask your members of Congress to cosponsor the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit, S. 315, legislation that would allow for a hearing aid tax credit. Learn more about this legislation; read the full issue brief on the Hearing Aid Tax Credit [PDF].

IDEA Funding for Special Education

Urge your members of Congress to request an additional $1.5 billion for IDEA Part B State Grants for fiscal year 2016 and to cosponsor H.R. 551, the IDEA Full Funding Act. Remind your members that funding remains below the pre-sequester levels and that their Republican colleagues requested this amount last year. Learn more about IDEA. See the full issue brief on IDEA [PDF].

Medicaid Coverage of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Services

Ask your members of Congress to support legislative efforts to provide Medicaid coverage for audiology and speech-language pathology services. Learn more about this legislation; read the full Medicaid Coverage of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Services issue brief [PDF].

Medicare Coverage of Audiology Services

Ask your members of Congress to support legislation that would provide senior citizens with a Medicare audiology benefit that gives them access to both diagnostic and rehabilitation services provided by audiologists. Learn more about comprehensive coverage. See the full issue brief on Medicare Coverage of Audiology Services [PDF].

Medicare Outpatient Therapy Caps

Tell Congress to support the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2015, H.R. 775, legislation that would repeal the Medicare outpatient therapy caps and ensure Medicare patients continue to have access to medically necessary speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy services. A repeal of the Medicare therapy caps should also be included in any Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) reform package. Learn more about therapy caps. See the full issue brief on Medicare Therapy Caps[PDF].

Medicare Telehealth Coverage for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Services

Tell your members of Congress to support legislation that recognizes audiologists and speech-language pathologists as appropriate providers of telehealth services and authorizes Medicare to reimburse them for providing patients with much-needed care. Learn more about this legislation; read the full issue brief on Telehealth Coverage [PDF].

Paperwork for Special Education Services

Ask your members of Congress to seek ways to reduce cumbersome administrative and paperwork requirements in the reauthorization of both the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Encourage your members of Congress to contact schools in their districts and schedule visits to meet with audiologists and speech-language pathologists to hear firsthand about the paperwork and administrative burden. Learn more about this legislation; read the full issue brief on Paperwork [PDF].

Reauthorization of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI)

Urge Congress to support legislation that would reauthorize the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program. This legislation would reauthorize the federal portion of this important and highly successful initiative for the next 5 years. Learn more about this legislation; read the full issue brief on EHDI [PDF].

Reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

Ask your members of Congress to give local school districts the flexibility to use qualified education professionals, such as audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs), as recognized providers of services under federal literacy and reading legislation and programs. Learn more about this legislation; read the full issue brief on ESEA [PDF].

Veteran Administration (VA) Hearing Aid Specialists

Tell your member of Congress to oppose H.R. 353, legislation that would allow for the appointment of hearing aid specialists to the Veterans Administration (VA). The bill was introduced by Representatives Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Tim Walz (D-MN). This legislation is redundant and unnecessary because current VA policies already allow for the employment of hearing aid specialists. The legislation will not address the problems associated with long wait times for hearing aids and hearing health care services by providing patients with timely access to qualified providers.
Learn more about this legislation; read the full Veteran Administration (VA) Hearing Aid Specialists issue brief [PDF].

Janis Hayes-Strom, MA-CCC A/SLP