In 2016, the National Council of State Boards of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology (NCSB) formally began the multi-stage process for developing an occupational licensure compact for audiology and speech-language pathology. The NCSB worked with the National Center for Interstate Compacts (NCIC), a part of the Council of State Governments (CSG) that has successfully worked with other health-care professions to enact licensure compacts.
The NCIC guided the process and included the Academy as a key stakeholder, along with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and other groups, in helping to shape the development of the compact. In 2019, the NCIC finalized the compact language and began the adoption phase.
The Academy recognizes the value of multi-state licensure to audiologists and has supported efforts to advance the compact. The Academy provided input throughout the development process and submitted comments when draft language was available. Currently, the Academy is working collaboratively with NCIC, ASHA, and NCSB in advancing legislation for state adoption.
At this writing, four states (Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming) have passed legislation to implement the compact. The licensure compact will not become operational until a minimum of 10 states pass and adopt implementing legislation. The Academy’s State Relations Committee is committed to supporting efforts to reach the needed 10 states within the year ahead.
How Would the ASLP-IC Work?
The Audiology Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC) would allow state-licensed audiologists and speech-language pathologists to apply for privileges to practice in other participating states and would enable them to provide services across state lines—either face-to-face or through telepractice.
This flexibility is needed in today’s health- care marketplace to help promote continuity of care for patients who travel or relocate, as well as to facilitate job mobility for providers. Each state participating in the compact will not cede any regulatory autonomy; it will continue to regulate the actual practice of audiology and speech-language pathology and maintain their individual scopes of practice. In addition, states that participate in the compact will be able to share provider disciplinary actions, providing an additional layer of consumer protection.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Emphasized the Need for the ASLP-IC
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to eliminate barriers to the provision of health-care services via telehealth. Throughout the current crisis, governors in many states have highlighted other occupational licensure compacts (nursing, physical therapy, medicine) and the helpful role that they play in facilitating the provision of health care across state lines.
The ASLP-IC, like many other licensure compacts, would enable practitioners to provide services, both in person and through telehealth delivery options, to patients who reside in other states that participate in the compact.
Occupational licensure compacts such as the ASLP-IC are supported by the Federal Trade Commission, which reported in a policy paper that “by enhancing the ability of licensees to provide services in multiple states, and to become licensed quickly upon relocation, license portability initiatives can benefit consumers by increasing competition, choice, and access to services, especially with respect to licensed professions where qualified providers are in short supply.”
Moving Forward and Next Steps
As noted above, four states have passed and adopted the requisite implementing legislation and a total of 10 states are needed for the compact to become operational. Looking ahead to the 2021 state legislative sessions, a list of target states has been created, based on action in 2020 or expressed interest from state licensing boards, legislators, and professional groups.
The list of target states has been divided into “tier one” states, in which passage is likely—Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas—and “tier two” states, in which chances for passage are a bit less clear—Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon.
Call to Action
It is not too early to get ready for the 2021 state legislative sessions. Get involved with your state Academy of Audiology, reach out to your state legislative representatives, talk to your fellow audiologists, and spread the word about the need for the ASLP-IC, for practitioners and patients alike.
More detailed information about the ASLP-IC can be found at the dedicated website https://aslpcompact.com, where you can find legislative text, fact sheets, and other advocacy materials.