The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), along with the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), sent a letter to Tom E. Price, MD, the newly appointed Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, ASHA announced in a press release. The joint communication communicated the organizations’ need to ensure patient access to services provided by occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists in future health reform efforts.

On March 6, 2017, two House committees—the Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee—released the American Health Care Act to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Currently, ACA-compliant plans (i.e., nongrandfathered individual and small group plans) must provide coverage for rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.

In addition, as part of the Habilitation Benefits Coalition (HAB Coalition), ASHA urged Congress to preserve coverage of habilitative services and devices, including audiology and speech-language pathology, in any ACA replacement efforts. The HAB Coalition—an advocacy group dedicated to preserving access to habilitation benefits within the ACA—details the ways in which habilitative services and devices have helped Americans with disabilities—and those with chronic progressive conditions—to acquire and maintain skills and functions never developed, and to maintain their health and function to live as independently as possible. The Coalition also details the long-term benefits of therapy services, which include reducing long-term disability, reducing dependents’ costs to society, and allowing caregivers to return to work.

Source: ASHA