The Board of the FLAA wants to extend wishes for you and your families to remain healthy during this critical and unprecedented time in America. Just remember, it’s still a great time to be an audiologist and people and families we serve depend on our expertise, knowledge and skills.
Conference: As you probably already know, the AAA canceled their conference and other gatherings where you can enhance your professional knowledge and skills are quite limited. At this time, the FLAA is still planning to hold our Annual Conference in Orlando, July 23-24, 2020 (https://www.floridaaudiology.org/convention-information/). Currently, there is a Call for Papers and the announced final program will be forthcoming. We hope to make this the largest State meeting in our history and look forward to seeing everyone there.
Legislation: The Florida Legislative session ended last week in Tallahassee without taking final action on the Children’s Hearing Aid legislation that would have required insurance companies to provide hearing aid benefits for children and families with private health insurance. Before the session began, the Parent Groups and FLAA were approached by the Florida Medical Association (FMA) to join as co-sponsors. A working group was organized that included educators, audiologists, parents, and physicians including ENT physicians, to agree on final language. It looked like the bill really had a chance of passing this year until the American Academy of Otolaryngology in Washington, DC sent a letter to Senate sponsors and committee members in opposition and seeking revisions to language in the legislation. At the open hearings, ENT physicians lined up with the insurance industry lobbyists in opposition to the legislation unless they were specifically identified as the primary hearing aid providers for these children. The end result was the legislature did not move the legislation from committees in either the House or Senate in Tallahassee. This was quite disappointing to the families and the Parent Groups for Children with Hearing Loss in Florida who were totally dismayed by this action. We will be having discussions on future plans.
New Blog: Thanks to FLAA VP of Legislative Activities, Dr. Julia Andrews and our VP of Education, Dr. Kayce Bramble for their great work in creating a new series of blogs that are being disseminated for the membership and the public about hearing and balance disorders. The first blog can be found at https://www.floridaaudiology.org/dhh-literacy/ on Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Literacy written by Sarah Jones, an Au.D. student at USF. Feel free to forward and share these blogs as they are released and circulate to interested parties.
State License Compact: The West Virginia Legislature is the first State to pass legislation approving the Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC). The compact is an agreement between states that allows audiologists to have one license but the ability to practice in other states that are part of the agreement. Ten states must enact a compact bill to become operative. The Florida License Board has had this on their agenda but to date no action has been taken to implement and no legislation has been introduced to adopt in Florida for audiologists. The FLAA Board is monitoring these activities.
Best Practices: As noted above, the FLAA conference is scheduled for July 23-24, 2020 in Orlando and this year there will be a focus on Audiology Best Practices. There is not a better time to adopt best practices considering the 16 co-morbidities (e.g., hypertension, heart disease, cognitive impairments, diabetes, etc.) associated with hearing and balance disorders that are monitored by Medicare for each audiologist and their patients and, of course, the probability of these disorders associated with COVID-19. In addition, many audiologists now qualify for the higher reimbursement from Medicare by participating in the Quality Payment Programs (QPP) including the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). This is where ‘quality’ of patient care is prioritized and incentivized over the volume of services. Medicare refers to this as Value-based Care and audiologists need to demonstrate the value of our services in keeping patients healthy and reducing the incidence of related disorders like falls, tinnitus, and job-loss while improving quality of life. Take a look at Audiology Best Practices for Adults which remain as relevant today as they did when they were developed several years ago https://audiology-web.s3.amazonaws.com/migrated/ClinicalPracticeAlgorithms.pdf_53994824786af8.17185566.pdf
We look forward to seeing you in July and stay healthy. As the poet Robert Frost said: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.”
On behalf of the FLAA Board of Directors,
Barry A. Freeman, Ph.D.