One of the questions I LOVE being asked when I speak at the state audiology organizations is, “What is the Academy doing for audiology?”
The reason I LOVE the question is that the answers are impressive and deserves a great deal of member recognition. Our Academy’s advocacy team continues to amaze me with their resourcefulness and initiative. Kathryn (Kitty) Werner, the Academy vice president of public affairs, came to the Academy with a great breadth of advocacy and member engagement experience, and now leads a dynamic and multifaceted team at the Academy.
One segment of the public affairs division contains all activities pertaining to advocacy. Kate Thomas, Academy senior director of advocacy and reimbursement, leads our dynamic advocacy team, which includes Adam Finkel, Academy associate director of government relations, and Carry Kovar of the Korris Group, and the ADVI Group. Their multifaceted activities require experience and synchrony to successfully carry out activities on legislative, regulatory, coding and reimbursement, political action committee (PAC), state leaders network, and member engagement.
OK, but exactly WHAT do they DO?! Our Academy’s advocacy team looks to enable every Academy member to be effective and successful in accessing resources, and eventually mobilizing into action. Not only does the team attend congressional meetings and briefings, but also issues action alerts to members about important congressional activities. I am hopeful that you have taken those few moments to participate when receiving an action alert, which provides a simple link to create a letter from a template that can be sent efficiently to your elected officials. WHAT? You don’t know who your elected official is? No worries! The advocacy team has streamlined your search efforts by obtaining your ZIP code, and VOILA! Your letter of support or concern is sent painlessly to your elected official.
There are a number of regulatory activities that require specialized attention by our advocacy team. They have provided ongoing comments on the Healthy People 2030 Draft Framework as well as monitored various federal agencies (i.e., FDA, FTC, FCC, etc.). One example of a long-term activity by the advocacy team resulted in close monitoring of the Federal Communications Commission’s possible rulemaking related to captioned telephones. We may see significant changes in rules pertaining to audiologists signing off on the consumer’s application to obtain captioned telephones. These changes may create greater hardships for hard of hearing or deaf consumers as they attempt to apply for TeleCommunication Devices (specifically captioned telephones).
For members who find themselves befuddled in transitioning to the latest in PQRS, or identifying the correct CPT audiology codes, or struggling to update that Clinical Services Superbill…have no fear. The advocacy team has created educational documents and presentations as well as templates for members to access and use. It’s not unusual to see the advocacy team interact with various private payer representatives for educational purposes about audiology and the value of an audiologist.
But, the above information is only a small tip of the very deep and wide iceberg of our advocacy team. If you spend time looking over the annual report from our Academy advocacy team, you will notice that they never sit idle and successfully wear many hats. More important, when you receive eNews from the Academy, take a few moments to learn more about what the Academy is doing. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the multiple activities that the Academy is doing for audiology!