Message from the Texas Academy of Audiology President 2013
Tires and the TAA (Posted 5/1/2013)
Recently, I needed to purchase new tires for my vehicle. Being on a state employee meager income, I decided to purchase only 2 tires and wait 6 weeks to purchase the other 2 tires. Imagine my disbelief after I instructed the young man behind the counter to put my 2 new tires on the front and he said he could not. In fact, it’s against the “law”. Apparently, if you only purchase 2 tires, the old tires must be placed on the front of a vehicle – that’s the “law”. I heard a great deal about hydroplaning, safety, blah, blah, blah. I could only think about my 2 old tires wearing out faster when placed on the front of the vehicle and envisioned a lack of traction when accelerating on a wet surface. BUT, it’s the “LAW”. REALLY!?!?!? I left with 4 new tires while shaking my head. WOW!! The tire industry has apparently hired a bevy of tenacious lobbyists to impact federal policy makers!
So, what do tires have to do with Texas Audiology? I’ve heard some Texas colleagues express disappointment that the Texas Academy of Audiology can’t provide instantaneous legislative or governmental updates about Audiology topics in Texas. In a perfect world, TAA would have a war chest that would enable us to hire 2 full-time lobbyists, like two other state associations involved in hearing health care. Granted, TAA is a young organization. Yet, currently with about 1200 licensed audiologists in Texas, less than 1/4 are members of TAA. Our “war chest” is more like a “shoe box”. TAA has one lobbyist who does a great job for the very part-time salary TAA pays him. As THE ONLY organization solely representing the interests of Texas Audiologists, we are closely monitoring SIXTEEN legislative bills that impact YOUR practice of Audiology in some fashion. We are pleased that Senator Wendy Davis has agreed to champion a bill proposed by TAA: Relating to health benefit plan coverage of hearing aids for children 18 years and younger! (For more information on legislative initiatives, go to the TAA Governmental Issues page.)
HOWEVER, Texas Audiologists - our profession is under attack on multiple fronts! One insurance company believes they do not need to abide by Texas rules and laws for dispensing hearing aids. One major discount retailer has targeted Texas to launch their over-the-counter hearing aid dispensing by Pharmacists and side-step our profession. We have conflicting and confusing guidance about invoicing for Medicaid with surprise audits and significant reduction in reimbursements. TAA has established a presence with Texas policy makers, and has been invited to the table in many negotiations. Now, more than ever, Texas Audiologists need to rally together with unified voice and representation. TAA is the only organization in Texas that is recognized as being solely dedicated to promoting audiology in Texas. Are you a current member of TAA? Not sure? Check online today: https://www.texasaudiology.org/join.asp become a member or renew your membership and join the 288 other audiologists who realize the value of the Texas Academy for their profession. We need you!
Jackie L. Clark, PhD
The State of Audiology in Texas - 2013 (posted 1/28/2013)
Some of the comments and questions placed on the Texas Academy of Audiology website and Facebook in 2012 are good indicators that we’re in for a busy 2013. Questions like...
“What is TAA doing about . . .?”
“What TAA needs to do is . . . “, etc.
So, what IS the Texas Academy doing for Audiology? TAA’S voluntary board of directors has been diligently working to ensure the highest standards for hearing health are maintained to protect the well being of all Texas consumers who have hearing loss.
Here are some issues that are important to all of us:
1. hi Health Innovations until recently, offered online hearing tests and reportedly dispensed 2900 hearing aids in Texas. With the help of 3 Texas state licensed audiologists, hi Health Innovations has determined that they may opting out of Texas Laws relating to audiological best practices (only utilizing air conducted tests to determine need of amplification; opting out of hearing aid verification measures; opting out of advising a potential hearing aid user if certain conditions exist prior to dispensing hearing aids (FDA rule 801.420)).
As a result of a joint complaint by the Texas Academy of Audiology and Texas Hearing Aid Association, the Texas Licensing Boards for audiologists and dispensers issued a Cease & Desist order in August 2012. More recently, representatives of the Texas Academy attended and offered opinion during the meeting between hi Health Innovations and the Texas Department of State Health Services. We are continuing to engage in fruitful conversation with hi Health Innovations and the Texas Licensing Boards.
2. The Medicaid Fee Schedule changes took effect 10-1-12, with confusing language about proper reimbursement for hearing aids.
TAA has publically expressed concern about interpretation and enforcement of Texas Administrative Code 355.8141, and in partnership with THAA has proposed an amendment to Rule 355.8141(b) with specific language. TAA continues ongoing dialogue wtih Medicaid Administrators to provide Texas Audiologists a clear definition about the clear wording pertaining to reimbursable of hearing aid/s.
3. 2011 Sunset Bill resulted in some modifications for the trial period and hearing aid contract wording that impacts all audiologists who dispense hearing aids.
I’ve shared with you only a few of the issues that your Texas Academy has been aggressively engaging in for Texas Audiologists. These next few years, TAA NEEDS YOU. Are you a current member of TAA? Fewer than 1/3 of Texas Audiologists are members of the Texas Academy. Yet, TAA is the only association of Audiologists in Texas that promotes ONLY Audiology matters. The stakes are high for Texas Audiologists. We need your support as a member, we need your support by attending the conferences, we need you presence at your State Legislatures offices. SIMPLY, TEXAS AUDIOLOGISTS, WE NEED YOU!
Jackie L. Clark, PhD
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