Medicaid Coverage for Hearing Devices: A.856 Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson) – This bill expands Medicaid coverage for assistive hearing devices including hearing aids, cochlear implants when prescribed or deemed medically necessary by a physician or audiologist. We will support this bill if it begins to move through the legislative process. https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2020/Bills/A1000/856_I1.PDF
Music Therapist Licensure (2019): NJSHA secured amendments to this legislation to protect the scope of practice of speech and audiology practitioners. These include mandating collaboration with a patient’s SLP or audiologist when providing services to patients with speech or swallowing disorders and prohibiting a music therapist from replacing SLSs or SLPs when providing educational or rehabilitation services. As introduced, the bill states that the practice of music therapy does not include the diagnosis of any physical, mental or communication disorder. The bill contains all of NJSHA’s amendments to protect the practices of speech-language therapy. Music therapists will be governed under a new “Board of Creative Arts and Activities Therapies.” There will be five professions under that Board: Dance Movement; Drama Therapy; Art Therapy; (these three are already in statute); Recreational Therapy; and Music Therapy. The Board shall consist of: two dance movement therapists; two drama therapists; two art therapists; two recreational therapists; and two music therapists. This bill was signed by Governor Murphy on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 (P.L.2019, c.471).
Single Licensure for Audiologists (2019): Signed by Governor Murphy in March 2019, this new law permits certain audiologists to dispense and fit hearing aids by virtue of their audiology license, without requiring a separate hearing aid dispensing license. NJSHA’s top legislative priority for the past several years, the bill received unanimous approval by two legislative committees and by the full Senate and Assembly. In addition to our prime sponsors, Senator Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex) and Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), nine legislators added their names to the legislation as co-sponsors. Single Licensure for Audiologists (2019) P.L. 2019, c. 41
Aphasia Task Force (2019): NJSHA was integral in securing the appointment of THREE NJSHA members (Linda Tucker, Mary Jo SantoPietro and Janice Dibling) to the 13-member Mike Adler Aphasia Task Force created by legislation passed last session (P.L. 2017, c. 342). This further demonstrates our value and involvement in every level of state policymaking. Aphasia Task Force (2019)
Working Group on Deaf Education (2019): NJSHA was integral in securing critical amendments to ensure that the Working Group has a balanced composition and parents and students have access to the supports and services that they need, in their chosen modality, whether that be American Sign Language or Listening and Spoken Language. We are in the process of recommending names of individuals, including SLPS and audiologists, to serve on this entity which is being housed in the DOE. Working Group on Deaf Education (2019)
Deaf Students Bill of Rights (2019): NJSHA worked with the sponsors of the bill to ensure that the protections and rights afforded to deaf and hard-of-hearing students in this legislation were meaningful and appropriate. This was signed into law 8/5/2019 (P.L.2019, c.204). Deaf Students Bill of Rights (2019)
Telemedicine/Tele-practice (2018): This law authorizes health care practitioners, including SLPs, to provide health care services via telemedicine/practice and allows for insurance reimbursement. NJSHA created a Task Force on this legislation, led by Robynne Kratchman and Donna Spillman Kennedy. They met with sponsors and staff and were consulted on proposed amendments as the legislation evolved. Among the amendments proposed by NJSHA which were accepted into the final version of the law, is a mandate that the practitioner be licensed in New Jersey. Telemedicine/Tele-practice (2017) P.L. 2017, c 117
Hearing Impairment Task Force (2017): Establishes “NJ Hearing Impairment Task Force.” The bill’s prime sponsor, Senator Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex) sought NJSHA’s input as he went through the process of drafting the bill. NJSHA has a designated representative on the Task Force, and Olivia VanWagner has been appointed by the Governor’s Office to fill this position. Hearing Impairment Task Force (2017) P.L. 2017, c. 255
Dyslexia Legislation (2009-2013): NJSHA has worked on many pieces of legislation to improve the education of children with dyslexia, including The New Jersey Reading Disabilities Task Force (P.L. 2009, c. 228): NJSHA successfully amended this legislation to include an individual recommended by NJSHA to the 13-member entity. Ultimately, Karen Kimberlin was named to the Task Force by Governor Christie and was instrumental in shaping their recommendations including several subsequent pieces of legislation (see below).
- Requires screening of students for dyslexia (P.L. 2013, c. 210)
- Requires that the DOE provide continuing education opportunities for certain educators, including speech-language specialists (P.L. 2013, c. 105)
- Directs DOE to insert International Dyslexia Association definition of dyslexia into regulations (P.L. 2013, c. 131)
Mandated Health Benefits Coverage for Therapies for Individuals with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities (2009): Speech therapy was included in this legislation which former Speaker Joe Roberts considered one of his proudest legacies. NJSHA played a key role in shaping this law, as language from a separate bill, initiated by NJSHA, was merged into the final piece of legislation: “Coverage shall not be denied on the basis that the treatment is not restorative.” This bill ensures coverage of children with speech language deficits due to developmental disabilities, not only those with autism. NJSHA members were invited to the August 13, 2009 bill signing by then-Governor Jon Corzine. Mandated Health Benefits Coverage for Therapies for Individuals with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities (2009) P.L. 2009, c. 115
Grace’s Law (2008): This bill requires insurance coverage for medically necessary expenses incurred in the purchase of a hearing aid for covered children 15 years of age or younger. Acting Governor Richard Codey publicly thanked NJSHA for the organization’s support at the bill signing. Grace’s Law (2008) P.L. 2008 c. 126
Elimination of Emergency Certification (2013): After years of meeting with staff at the Department of Education (DOE) and the Governor’s office and delivering oral and written testimony before the Board of Education (BOE), NJSHA was finally successful in seeing the elimination of the use of emergency certification for speech-language specialists working in schools. It was replaced with Certificate of Eligibility (CE) which mandates that the holder be matriculated in a master’s degree program in speech-language pathology/communications disorders (versus enrolled – the wording in the old emergency which NJSHA long fought to change. Elimination of Emergency Certification (2013)
New Jersey Tiered System of Supports (NJTSS) (2015): NJTSS is a framework of academic and behavioral supports and interventions to improve student achievement, based on the core components of multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS) and the three-tier prevention logic of Response to Intervention (RTI). With a foundation of strong district and school leadership, a positive school culture and climate, and family and community engagement, NJTSS builds upon intervention and referral services (I&RS) and gives schools a structure to meet the academic, behavioral, health, enrichment, and social-emotional needs of all students. NJTSS
Dyslexia Handbook (2015): The purpose of The New Jersey Dyslexia Handbook: A Guide to Early Literacy Development & Reading Struggles is to provide information to educators, students, families, and community members about dyslexia, early literacy development, and the best practices for identification, instruction, and accommodation of students who have reading difficulties. Dyslexia Handbook
Student Growth Objectives for School based SLPs: SGOs are long-term academic goals for groups of students set by teachers/SLSs in consultation with their supervisors.
New Jersey Framework for the Evaluation of Speech-Language Specialists (2013): Introduction to the NJSHA-recommended New Jersey Framework for the Evaluation of Speech-Language Specialists. Evidence of Effectiveness for the New Jersey Framework for the Evaluation of Speech-Language Specialists
- The Aphasia Task Force: Mary Jo Santo Pietro, Janice Dibling and Linda Tucker-Simpson
- Hearing Impairment Task Force: Olivia VanWagner
- The Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee: Janet Koehnke, Donna Merchant and Martin Shulman
- New Jersey Tiered System of Supports: Sue Goldman and Mary Faella
- New Jersey Dyslexia Task Force (2014-2017): Karen T. Kimberlin
Learn more about state issues and get involved by contacting the legislative chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.