By Susan Pilch
Ten states (Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming) have passed legislation to implement the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Licensure Compact (ASLP-IC) and now the compact is officially operational. Implementing legislation was pending in a number of additional states as this issue of Audiology Today went to press.
The ASLP-IC will allow state-licensed audiologists and speech-language pathologists to apply for a privilege to practice in other participating states and enable them to provide services across state lines—either in person 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.
Because each state that participates in the compact will continue to regulate the actual practice of audiology and maintain its individual scope of practice, states will not cede any regulatory autonomy. In addition, states that participate in the compact will be able to share provider disciplinary actions, providing an additional layer of consumer protection.
Organizing the Compact Commission
While efforts will continue to encourage more states to pass similar legislation, the focus will now shift to organizing the compact commission, an independent coordinating organization that will administer the compact on the states’ behalf. Each state participating in the compact will appoint two delegates to the commission—one audiologist and one speech-language pathologist.
The state licensing board, or a comparable regulatory body, will have the ability to appoint the delegates. The commission will be governed by the terms of the compact, which provides the authority for the commission to create bylaws, rules, and policies for self-governance.
The commissioners must function within the terms and limitations of the compact and the bylaws, rules, and policies the commission approves. A supporting data system will be put into place to allow for the electronic processing of interstate licensure documentation.
Working Within the Compact
Audiologists must already be licensed in their home state before seeking to apply for a privilege to practice in another participating state. To apply, audiologists would access the compact website and upload their licensure information. An algorithm would read the data and provide the individual with confirmation that they are eligible and provide a privilege credential. An individual practicing under a compact privilege in another state will be bound by that state’s specific scope of practice and any other rules and regulations.
The Academy held a series of webinars in late 2020 on the ASLP-IC to provide information to members. Additionally, the Academy featured the compact as the topic on a State Leaders’ Call to provide a forum for state advocacy leaders to share information and ask questions about the compact. The following are a few of the recurring questions that many have asked.
Why is there one joint compact for audiology and speech-language pathology and not a separate one for each profession?
In the majority of states, these professions are regulated by the same licensing board. Also, the relatively small number of audiologists would probably make the cost of establishing an audiology-only compact cost-prohibitive. Combining with speech-language pathology reduces the overall cost.
What would the approximate cost be for an individual to obtain a compact privilege?
For reference, we look to the physical therapy (PT) compact. The PT interstate commission charges $45 per privilege and allows each member state to add an additional fee. Member states want to try to keep the fee as low as possible so that the compact is used.
What about states that have separate audiology and hearing aid dispensing licenses?
If your home state allows you to dispense hearing aids under your audiology license, but you are providing services in another compact state that requires a separate hearing aid dispensing license, you must obtain that separate license to provide those services in that state. The state in which you are providing services to the patient dictates the scope of practice.
What Are the Next Steps?
Now that the compact has been activated and planning has begun for the commission, the Academy and other stakeholders will begin meeting and discussing possible data platforms that could be used to support the compact, as well as planning for the initial meeting of the commission.
For more information about the ASLP-IC, visit the dedicated website at www.aslp-ic.com to access the text of the implementing legislation, one-pagers, and Q&A documents that may address any remaining questions you may have.
This article is a part of the July/August 2021 Audiology Today issue.