Let Me Hear From You
Declare Your Independence!
With Independence Day just around the corner, we need to take a moment and declare our independence from some of the legacy issues holding back the great profession of audiology. Primary among these issues is to obtain direct access for Medicare beneficiaries to audiologists. As of May 25, 2012, we now have a companion Senate bill (S, 3242) introduced by audiology’s good friend, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), to our House bill (H.R., 2140), which was introduced earlier in the 112th congressional session by Representative Mike Ross (D-AR). The House bill has 57 cosponsors already. As I have said previously—in July 2011 and October 2011—we are in charge of the success of these bills—to ensure that our elected representatives understand the importance of this legislation to break from the outdated past, and allow Medicare beneficiaries the same access to audiology care as Members of Congress and many other Americans have enjoyed for years.
What are you waiting for? Just like the issues at play in the build-up to the general election this fall, it is up to the voting public to make a noise. There are more than 11,500 members in the Academy, and we all know lots of people and they know lots of people, we have to create a ground swell of activity to get our issue recognized above all the other “stuff” going on this year. But it can be done. Just as Rep. Ross said in his video played at General Assembly in Boston this year at AudiologyNOW! 2012, the elected officials want to hear from you. You. Their constituent. Go to their offices; meet with them and with their staff. Tell them the importance of direct access to audiology care. Here’s the information you need to prepare to “wow” the member and his or her staff.
If that is not enough, feel free to contact me directly and we can discuss the “ins and outs” of meeting with your elected representatives. Or contact any member of the Board of Directors, the chair of the Government Relations Committee (John Coverstone), or any of the Academy staff (Melissa Sinden, Kate Thomas). We’d love to help you through the process. It just takes once and, trust me, you get the hang of it. Once you realize these folks work for you, whether you voted them into office or not, they are there to listen to you and hear your position. We are on the right side of this legislative initiative, regardless of what others may say. This is the right move for audiology, right now.
With the obvious and predicted changes on the horizon in health care: who is eligible for care, how much health care, who gets paid for doing what, etc., audiologists need a seat at the table in order to have a say in how the system changes, and how it benefits our patients and how it treats us as autonomous providers. We have to get direct access enacted now before the national health-care models change. It does not limit us within the system, it allows us to flex our muscle and show our worth. But we have to be inside the system and be equal to all the others already there in order to affect change. Remember Mark Twain’s observation, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
The beauty of it is, we are on the right side of this initiative. I implore you to get to the Academy’s Advocacy Web site and make your voice heard. Then make an appointment with your representatives, and your senators and tell them why direct access is the common sense legislation of the land. They’ll listen and they’ll get it. Then repeat the message over and over. To paraphrase Nietzsche and Clairee Belcher (portrayed by Olympia Dukakis in Steel Magnolias), “That which does not kill us only makes us stronger.”
Now get out there and VOTE AUDIOLOGY!!!