Ohio State University/University of Cincinnati and NOVA Southeastern University Students Advocate for Audiology on Capitol Hill
On April 11th, twenty-two audiology doctoral students from Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati made the trip to the nation’s capital to meet with members of the Ohio congressional delegation. These students met with both Senator Rob Portman (R) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D) as well as six of the Ohio representatives. Students in attendance were Natalie Safdar, Olivia Planas, Emma Beaver, Kayla Cyphert, Alyse Robinson, Eliana Dobres, Sam Butterbaugh, Jessica Lewis, Emma Woolf, Caitlin Heaton, Alicia Gonzalez, Erica Hoogerland, Emily Stevens, Paige Wulliger, Nicole Greenwalt, Izabela Jamsek, Katie Baker, Megan Sharo, Leah Demko, Emily Ball, Karl Verlik, and Halee Albertson.
On May 10th, seven audiology doctoral students and two faculty members from NOVA Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with their elected representatives. These students met with staff from the offices of elected officials from Florida—including Senator Marco Rubio (R), Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D), Representative Ted Deutch (D) and Representative Francis Rooney (R) but also with elected officials from some of students’ home states of New York, Tennessee and Hawaii. Students in attendance were Ali Silverman, Erin Kelly, Jessica Rubin, Mary Buckman, Tasha Takeshita, Brie Stanikmas and Samantha Englaish.
In meetings with these elected officials, students from both groups outlined the critical issues facing the profession of audiology. Specifically, students highlighted current collaborative efforts by AAA, ADA and ASHA to pursue legislation that would ensure direct access to audiologist services for Medicare beneficiaries as well as the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act and the Access to Frontline Care Act. The Medicare Telehealth Parity Act would identify audiologists as appropriate providers of telehealth services and authorize reimbursement for the provision of such services to Medicare beneficiaries. The Access to Frontline Care Act would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make student loan repayments for audiologists that provide two years of service in a healthcare facility serving a frontline scarcity area (healthcare shortage area)).
These student advocates skillfully tied audiology legislative priorities into the larger healthcare discussions taking place on Capitol Hill surrounding reducing overall healthcare costs--eliminating unnecessary physician visits with direct access to audiologist services-- and increasing patient access to needed services—via telehealth and increasing providers in healthcare shortage areas.