The RVS Update Committee (RUC) Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee (HCPAC) of the American Medical Association (AMA) has decided to create a separate seat for Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) on RUC HCPAC that the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) will occupy and has asked ASHA and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) to share the seat for Audiology. ASHA will hold the SLP seat and will be primary holder of the audiology seat for the initial rotation, and AAA will be the alternate. The roles for the audiology seat will then alternate on a yearly basis.

The RUC HCPAC was created by AMA in 1992 to allow for participation in the development of relative values for new and revised Common Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes within the scope of practice of nonphysician, healthcare professionals. CPT codes are used to report covered services to Medicare and other organizations. Organizations representing physician assistants, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, optometrists, podiatrists, psychologists, social workers, audiologists, speech-language pathologists, chiropractors, and registered dieticians are included on the review board.

According to a news release from ASHA, the creation of a seat specifically for speech-language pathology increases ASHA’s role on the RUC HCPAC while the continuing representation of audiology in a seat to be held jointly by ASHA and AAA will expand opportunities for collaboration between audiology organizations.

The new seat for Audiology also represents a substantial achievement for the AAA, which has attended as observers CPT/RUC HCPAC meetings for 12 years and petitioned for separate seats starting in 2008. In 2011, Audiology was awarded a unique seat on the CPT HCPAC Editorial Panel, the group that develops and revises CPT codes. However, at that time, there were not separate seats for the RUC HCPAC, the committee that recommends relative values for factors such as physician work, direct practice expenses for each code, etc. In short, the RUC HCPAC has a lot of influence on reimbursement. This October, AAA learned that the RUC HCPAC now supports two distinct professions of audiology and SLP as separate entities on the committee.

According to a recent Audiology Today article (Nov/Dec 2013) by Kadyn Williams, Erin Miller, and Sharmila Sandhu, “The RUC HCPAC decision allows the profession of audiology to have an autonomous voice and function independently in this important code development and valuation process.” They say that AAA and ASHA have begun preliminary discussions on how best to work together, along with the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) and other audiology organizations, for a “unified, cohesive voice to the profession of audiology.”

Source: ASHA and AAA