Legislative Updates

Updates from Meghan Gallagher

Great news from the Government Affairs committee.

Through the hard work of a small sub-committee of the Medical Committee and the VP of Government Affairs, new CFs will start seeing license numbers associated with the Supervised Professional Experience (SPE). This small group met a number of times, spoke with many different healthcare agencies about the issues of CFs not having a license number and came up with a memo that was submitted to the Department of Public Health to lobby to have license numbers assigned.

The Department of Public Health feels that Speech-Language Pathologists are a bit different than other practitioner types because the clinician supervision must be pre-approved and a fee is collected with the application. On account of this, they do not feel that it would be difficult to issue a permit for their supervised work, which would be essentially the same things as temporary/provisional license.

The license system has been configured to start issuing numbers to all new speech pathologists approved to complete professional experience toward meeting the licensing requirement. This was completed as of July 27, 2017. This will not be retroactive.

While there will still be work to be done at the legislative level come next session, we are off to a good start. Because the license number is now in place, when we lobby to make a semantic change to the licensure law, there should be little resistance, since the Department of Public Health will not need to make any changes to the current process, resulting in a fiscally neutral bill.

Please contact the VP of Government Affairs for further questions.

HB 5269 – An act concerning health insurance coverage for hearing aids. Its purpose is to require health insurance coverage for hearing aids for individuals with a hearing loss of ninety per cent or greater and to establish a graduated deductible for such individuals. 01/19/2017 reserved for subject matter public hearing. There is also SB 229 – expanding health insurance coverage for hearing aids. Its purpose is to expand health insurance coverage for hearing aids to insureds beyond children twelve years of age or younger. 2/7/2017 public hearing, but no action has been taken since that time. These bills are introduced into the legislative process every year and continually lose. Unfortunately these bills will likely not pass again this year due to the potential to cost to the state in a tight budget year. Any program that does not have proper funding is getting shut down. The insurance companies have also been a very strong voice in opposing additional insurance mandates as Connecticut has very heavy insurance mandates already.

HB 5759 – establishing a Connecticut health freedom and access act. This permits a health care provider who is not licensed, certified or registered by the state to provide health care services in the state. 01/17/2017 referred to joint committee on public health committee. It has not moved since this time. This bill would be opposed by CSHA and ASHA in an effort to protect the integrity of our licensure.

HB 5811 – concerning the provision of telehealth services. Its purpose is to place certain requirements on telehealth services. 01/18/2017 referred to joint committee on public health committee. This bill would require an individual to see a care provider in person prior to seeking telehealth services. It would essentially require at least 1 in person meeting for evaluation or treatment prior to the telehealth services being needed. While this may be difficult for some patients, Connecticut being a small state makes it a more feasible expectation. However as a rule, we would oppose any legislation that puts a greater burden delivery of services in general. This bill was scheduled for a Public Hearing on 2/17/17, but there has been no further movement on this bill. CSHA did not speak against this bill at the public hearing.

HB 5812 – revising the scope of practice review process. Its purpose is to amend the process of approval of requests for a scope of practice review. 01/18/2017 referred to joint committee on public health committee. It has passed the public hearing and is now in committee. So this bill is moving forward. The changes in the scope of practice would mean that a professional scope of practice would need to be in place for 5 years prior to it being revisited for modifications. Currently in Connecticut, our scope of practice has been in place for longer than five years, so this bill would not stop us from making changes to the scope of practice. However it could be a problem with new scopes of practice that are being put into place. The Connecticut Speech-Language-Hearing Association will need to be diligent at reviewing bills being introduced by other professions, to make sure that the scope of practice being proposed does not compromise the expertise of SLPs or Audiologists.

HB 6964 – act concerning insurance coverage for special education costs. Its purpose is to reduce the cost of special education to school districts. 01/26/2017 referred to joint committee on insurance and real estate committee. It has not moved past this point. In the Senate there is also SB 468 – act concerning insurance coverage for special education expenses. Its purpose is to reduce the cost of special education to school districts. 01/20/2017 referred to joint committee on education committee and has also not moved past this point. The Connecticut Speech-Language-Hearing Association would be opposing this bill if it goes to public hearing, as it would increase the amount of paperwork required for school SLPs and could potentially hurt caseloads for outpatient SLPs.

SB 715 – (1) codify the definition of “evidence based-structured literacy”, as adopted by the Department of Education, (2) develop a program of study for individuals with an endorsement in special education or speech and language pathologists to receive training in evidence-based structured literacy interventions, (3) establish a dyslexia advisory council for the purpose of developing model templates for elementary, special education and remedial reading planned programs of study that delineate how course work is meeting statutory requirements relating to dyslexia, and (4) enhance the assessment requirement of section 10-14t of the general statutes. 01/25/2017 referred to joint committee on education committee. It has not moved past this point.