Committee News – Archives

AAC Committee
The AAC Committee is working on multiple projects to increase awareness of AAC in the professional and lay communities. If you are interested in joining a dynamic group of professionals passionate about AAC, let us know and we will invite you to join our next meeting on zoom, July 13 at 7:30.

Audiology Committee
Happy summer! The Audiology Committee has been busy. A lot has happened since our last Board meeting, most notably the implementation of the Audiology Single License Law. As I’m sure you have heard by now, as of May 17, 2021, NJ audiologists are able to dispense hearing aids by virtue of their audiology license and no longer need to hold a second license for hearing aid dispensing. This victory comes after years of work by many devoted NJSHA and NJAA audiologists. Thank you to Bob DiSogra, Anne Eckert, Janet Koehnke, Donna Merchant, Bob Woods and the other audiologists from NJSHA and NJAA who kept this initiative alive and moving over the past ten years. A most special shout out to Lynn Nowak, NJSHA’s lobbyist who guided our course, stood by our side at countless meetings and hearings with legislators, represented us in the State House, and provided the expert counsel needed to make single license a reality.

Here are some highlights of other activities of the Audiology Committee over the past two months:
Convention: We had a fantastic convention! The Audiology track for Convention 2021 had a range of topics including aural rehab, Covid effects on the auditory system, hearing aids, the link between diabetes and audiology/SLP, the changing landscape of audiology services, a professional expert panel, coding and reimbursement, and the aging auditory system. Our sessions had something for everyone, were very well attended and received great feedback. Thank you to the wonderful speakers who joined us to provide their expertise and informative content, and to the Convention Committee for your leadership and constant support for audiology programming. Last but never least, thanks to Craven Management for providing us with an outstanding platform and their attention to detail that makes all NJSHA continuing education events so seamless and such a pleasure to attend.

Legislative Activity: With the implementation of single license, the Audiology Committee has worked to ensure the NJSHA membership is informed. In addition to developing posts for the website and social media and writing an article for VOICES, the Committee met with NJSHA’s legislative agent Lynn Nowak and members of NJSHA and NJAA, to strategize for how to best keep our members updated on the new law. A position statement on single license is in development, and the meetings of the AUD/SLP Advisory Committee and the NJ Hearing Aid Dispensing Examiners Committee are being closely monitored to ensure we are aware of any decisions impacting our members. Thank you to lobbyist Jacy Lance for attending the Division of Consumer Affairs meetings on behalf of NJSHA and providing detailed feedback as information becomes available.

In addition to single license, the Audiology Committee, in conjunction with the Legislative Committee has been closely monitoring other state and national legislative initiatives. On June 10th NJSHA formally registered support for A5464/S3660 that would improve public access for hearing impaired individuals in NJ by increasing availability of induction loop systems.

On the national level we plan to recommend support for Ally’s Act (HR. 477) that would require private insurers to cover bone anchored hearing devices and cochlear implants for children and adults. In addition, NJSHA strongly supports MAASA- Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act which allows for direct access to audiologic services and streamlining Medicare coverage. There are links on the website that provide more information on each of these initiatives.

Other association activities that the Audiology Committee has been working on include review of budget needs for 2022, fielding audiology related questions from members and the public that came in to the NJSHA home office, and collaborating with the website task force to continue to refine audiology content and overall website format.

At the June Board meeting Michele McGlynn will begin her term as the audiologist member on the NJSHA Board. Thank you to Michele for her willingness to serve.

As I step down from the NJSHA Board of Directors, I reflect back on the past ten years and the many professional relationships that led to friendships along the way. Thank you to the wonderful Presidents I had the pleasure of working with, Joan Bruno, Linda Tucker Simpson, Gerard Caracciolo, Mary Faella and Robynne Kratchman. I learned from all of you and was inspired by your leadership. I gain so much both professionally and personally from being a part of NJSHA and will continue to serve as best I can. I look forward to working beside Michele as Audiology Committee Chair and send special thanks to Joan Besing for her service in this role for the past few years.

There are many opportunities for service to our profession, and few that are more rewarding than working with NJSHA. The support given to New Jersey audiologists and the patients we serve, and the collaboration between NJSHA and the New Jersey Academy of Audiology provides a most unique and impressive network and support system in our field. The Audiology Committee is always looking for volunteers. Please consider joining us! Reach out to me or contact the NJSHA offices to learn more.

Convention Committee
Save the date – NJSHA Convention 2022 – April 28-29, 2022 – at Ocean Place Resort and Spa in Long Branch, NJ. We will be “Setting Sails” together !!

Healthcare/EI Committee
There was a webinar held on Tuesday 6/22 by a group of Committees: Healthcare/Early Intervention, Private Practice, and STAR/StAMP. We also had the privilege of having Lynn Nowak and Jacy Lance, Lobbyists for NJSHA speak as well. Highlights included discussion of coverage verse payment parities for telemedicine, the Healthcare Transparency Act, Registered Dental Hygienists practicing myofunctional therapy without appropriate licensure, chosen name on licenses, and current status of criminal history checks for licensure applicants.

Early Intervention covered current practice patterns for telehealth verses in person therapy and the status of masks. Rate increases was addressed as well.

Private Practice touched upon the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE), insurance updates during COVID, the ongoing monthly meetings to resolve issues with Horizon, and Telepractice rules in NJ status post PHE.

StAMP provided information regarding how to advocate for enhancing and continuing telehealth services for adults, and improving Medicare coverage for audiology services.

Guidelines were given regarding how to track state laws and regulations for telepractice and licensing policies, how to track commercial insurance plans for telepractice policies, and how to track Medicaid telepractice policies.

An update was given regarding the Dysphagia Subcommittee, drawing up a White Paper to address the laws and regulations in New Jersey which places restrictions on the speech pathologist to perform the Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing only when a physician is present who has passed a scope. A Survey regarding completing FEES was sent out to speech pathologists in NJ with the assistance of ASHA. The Dysphagia Subcommittee has completed the introduction, and main body with charts of the white paper thus far.

Please look up the NJSHA website to hear the recording of this webinar for more in-depth information.

Higher Education Committee
The Annual Supervisors’ Virtual Workshop was held on June 2, 2021. Dr. Kyomi Gregory of Pace University in NYC spoke and engaged participants in discussions about cultural humility in clinical supervision.

Multicultural Issues Committee
MIC is not just for bilingual speakers. All NJSHA members are welcome to learn about multicultural issues and bilingualism. We are always looking for new members and ideas to grow our committee and expertise.

AAC Committee
The AAC Committee is working on some very exciting projects. If you are interested in joining us, we meet monthly via zoom. Our next meeting is Tuesday April 27th at 7:30. If you would like to join the committee, please email bseltzer@accesscommunication.org or k8flaxman@gmail.com. It is a great way to share resources, network and positively influence the AAC community.

Audiology Committee

  1. Convention Planning and promotion:
    • Developing content, engaging speakers, promoting the event
  2. Legislative Action: Met with lobbyist and legislative committee on several issues:
    • Status of single license bill and next step planning
    • Dilemma for new grads in need of hearing aid licensing
    • Review of newly proposed legislation and discussion of NJSHA’s position- most notable Induction Loop bill
  3. Working with website task force to review member section for updates and content development
  4. Working with PR committee to brainstorm for content for PR, social media, VOICES and website for Better Hearing and Speech Month 2021

Convention Committee
The NJSHA Convention Committee is excited to premier a Virtual Convention this year!! We are most certainly venturing into a new beginning and are both humbled and proud to continue to offer you, our members, quality programs and exceptional presenters from the comfort of your homes or surroundings. Planned for you are 16 hours of live continuing education plus the opportunity to watch recorded presentations and poster presentations on-demand. Join us Wednesday April 28 from 5:30pm to 9:00pm, Thursday April 29 from 5:30pm to 9:15pm, Friday April 30 from 8:30am to 4:30pm and Saturday May 1 from 8:30am to 1:00pm as we will be “Sea-Zing the Future” together!

Healthcare/EI Committee
On March 3, 2021, a Private Practice and Healthcare/Early Intervention Pop Meeting was held and recorded for future listening. The chairs and vice chairs of the respective committees along with the early intervention specialist and the president of NJSHA spoke about current issues in evaluating and treating clients and patients. The healthcare chair discussed information regarding Medicare telehealth reimbursement including telephone and e-mail visits. Information regarding Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Aetna coverage for speech, voice, and dysphagia therapy services were covered for the healthcare industry.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) was discussed from the prospective of the private practitioner. Also required documentation for out of network providers for private practices, and details regarding how to construct a payment receipt with all the necessary components were talked about.

The challenges in providing in person early intervention were reported with the masks and social distancing to model speech sounds and co-articulated words, to the difficulties of technology for telehealth.

Higher Education Committee
The Higher Ed committee has been working on developing and hosting a virtual Student Advocacy Day event – a webinar to be held on Thursday April 22 from 6-7:30 pm. . Our next event will be the Supervisor’s Continuing Ed event, planned for 6/2/21 with Dr. Kyomi Gregory speaking on the topic of Cultural Humility in Clinical Supervision.

Legislative Affairs Committee
Want to know how the implications and impact that legislation has on our professions? Visit often the Advocacy section of the website for the most current information on NJSHA’s legislative issues in New Jersey.

Multicultural Issues Committee
MIC has ushered in so many successful initiatives during COVID, so we are always excited to find more members who can continue bringing good ideas to the group! If you are interested reach out NJSHA at info@njsha.org.

Private Practice Committee
NJSHA has always diligently watching for changes and updates related to billing and reimbursement rules for our membership. The Healthcare and Private Practice Committees have been keeping a close eye out for any new information related to the current public health emergency, COVID-19, and telehealth. There is news from both federal and state level insurance coverage affecting both speech-language pathology and audiology services.

The duration of the current federal public health emergency (PHE) is being extended, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has added 24 CPT codes to the list of approved services by speech-language pathologists and audiologists for telehealth.

The most up-to-date information regarding several NJ insurance companies and CMS coding/modifier policies for billing and coding requirements for reimbursement for speech pathology and audiology telehealth services has been ongoing. The Private Practice Committees is committed to helping our members provide support for the best quality speech pathology and audiology services as well as a means for efficient reimbursement. If you discover changes in billing requirements, or are having trouble getting claims paid, please contact the Private Practice and/or Healthcare Committees. You may not be the only one with a challenge!

The ASHA Political Action Committee (PAC) is encouraging all members to help advocate for telehealth service coverage to continue after the PHE. Contacting members of Congress and asking them to permanently authorize telehealth services for audiologists and speech-language pathologists by cosponsoring H.R. 2168.

School Affairs Committee
NJSHA’s School Affairs Committee welcomes all members to our committee. Please email info@njsha.org for more information.

Student Involvement Committee
Make sure to attend session 23 during the NJSHA Virtual Convention on Friday, April 30, for the session NJSHA Student Connection: Honing Your Interviewing Skills. You can also find more information regarding interview tips in the Spring 2021 issue of VOICES.

Dysphagia Subcommittee
The Dysphagia Subcommittee, part of the Healthcare Committee would like to thank all of you who responded to the NJSHA Fiberoptic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) Survey. A total of 245 speech pathologists responded out of 2, 313 people at a 10.6% response rate. The survey went out on March 11, 2021 and closed on April 2, 2021.

The very valuable information from all of you who responded will be used in the White Paper created by this subcommittee to advocate legislatively for Doctors of Medicine (MDs) to no longer be required to be on the premises of such facilities as nursing homes while a speech pathologist performs the objective testing, FEES. New Jersey is the only state which requires this. This has hindered the expediency and quality of care of clients and patients alike. It will be designed for speech pathologists to request the study to be conducted more easily in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and on a home health basis as well.

Looking for previous Committee News? Visit our Committee News Archives page.

AAC Committee
Please see our Professional AAC Brochure on the website. It has a wealth of information for SLP’s who would like to gain some basic information on AAC Evaluations and Implementation strategies. In addition, the AAC Consumer Brochure is a great source of information for families, caregivers, and non-SLP professionals. This will be on the website shortly. Our next meeting will be on February 23rd. Please contact info@njsha.org if you are interested in attending.

Convention Committee
The Convention Committee is working hard to bring you a “nontraditional” convention. Our plan is to offer live and recorded hours. We are in the process of contacting speakers to arrange this special presentation. Keep tuned for more information regarding a possible late April or early May virtual Convention date. Once again we hope to be “Sea-zing the Future” with you!

Healthcare/EI Committee
A Private Practice and Healthcare/Early Intervention Popup Forum will be held on Thursday, March 4th from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. This forum welcomes all NJSHA members and provides opportunities to ask questions regarding insurance, personal protective equipment (PPE), telehealth, billing, and more.

Legislative Affairs Committee
Go to Advocacy section on NJSHA website to hear the latest on what’s going on with our professions.

Multicultural Issues Committee
MIC is actively seeking new members. If you have questions or are interested in joining the committee, please contact Dr. Stacey D. Johnson or Mrs. Melissa Silva at info@njsha.org.

Nominations and Elections Committee
Members time to vote! Voting will end by February 26th.Winners will be announced in March 2021.

Looking for previous Committee News? Visit our Committee News Archives page.

AAC Committee
The AAC Committee is a dynamic group of professionals working together to provide information to professionals and the public on AAC use. The committee meets once per month and is a great opportunity to network and share information with other SLP’s who have an interest in AAC. Our next meeting is January 26th at 7:30 via zoom. All NJSHA members are welcome to join. Please email info@njsha.org if interested in joining.

Continuing Education Committee
We are always welcoming new committee members. If interested, please reach out to info@njsha.org.

Convention Committee
As of this writing, we are still planning to hold Convention 2021 at Ocean Place in Long Branch April 22-23 however, it is uncertain what impact COVID may have on our plans. Stay tuned for updates regarding Convention 2021. Despite our challenges, we still hope to be “Sea-zing the Future” with you.

Healthcare/EI Committee
The Dysphagia Subcommittee within the Healthcare Committee has had two meetings on November 12th and December 3rd with six committee members working to write and revise a survey to send out to all of you as NJSHA members. The goal of this committee is to change the ability to serve the public when conducting the Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) in New Jersey. Under our current licensure, we must have an otolaryngologist or medical doctor who has scoped patients (even if it occurred just during his/her residency) on location while performing the FEES which presents its challenges. When the FEES is not conducted in a timely manner then it may be holding up patient care, hindering the patient/client from having food/nutrition by mouth or having an upgrade to a more palatable diet. It also may impact the clinician’s ability to ascertain objective data which may be needed to downgrade the patient’s diet for safety, or to design accurate meal management strategies and a dysphagia therapy program. Nursing home and home bound patients may have some issues with getting to a hospital or facility via ambulance to complete a Modified Barium Swallow Study.

A two to five minute survey will be going out in January electronically. If you work in the healthcare industry then please take the time to complete the survey, or if you know of a fellow speech pathologist who works in healthcare and is not a member of NJSHA then please send the survey onto her/him. We are wondering if you are or are not impacted by issues surrounding the completion of the FEES.

STAR/StAMP
Medicare Cuts for Speech Language Pathology and Audiology:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have finalized significant rate reductions for audiology and speech language pathology services along with 30 other Medicare provider groups to offset payment increases for primary care services. There is one pool of money which is used to cover all these services and the monies may be reallocated as needed. There will be a six percent decrease in payment for audiology services and a nine percent decrease in speech language pathology services which will begin January 1,, 2021. CMS finalized the payment cuts despite the coalition of members of Congress, physician and nonphysician groups, and ASHA who urged them to stop the reductions. ASHA is advocating for Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 8702, Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts during COVID-19 Act of 2020. If Congress does not pass H.R. 8702 or some other legislation then the reductions will take place.

Medicare Telehealth Services:
CMS will not be authorizing audiology telehealth services after the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) in 2021. CMS has allotted five CPT Codes reported by Speech Pathologists for telehealth services to remain in place temporarily after the PHE in 2021. However, the speech language pathologist must be under the direct supervision of the physician either by being in the same office or virtually through the use of audio/video real-time communication technology

ASHA is advocating for CMS and Congress to continue to reimburse for additional telehealth audiology and speech-language pathology services/CPT Codes during the PHE and after it has ended. ASHA is also working with Congress to pass legislation, H.R. 8755, the Expanded Telehealth Access Act. This will enable audiologists and speech pathologists to be on the list of providers eligible for Medicare reimbursement of telehealth services in general.

Volunteer Opportunity:
ASHA is announcing a volunteer opportunity through their Member Advisory Group on Payment/Delivery Reform in Healthcare Settings:
ASHA is seeking four volunteers, who have experience in either healthcare reimbursement, private practice, practice management, or health reform to work on developing member resources and other facets related to payment and service delivery reform in healthcare over a one year period. They will focus on redesigning how speech pathologists and audiologists look at interprofessional practice, quality measurements, outcomes driven data, and patient experience. Alternative Payment Models (APMs) are approaches designed to create change in healthcare by having clinicians take accountability for increasing the quality of care that they provide in the most cost-effective manner. There is a Patient-Driven Payment Model for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and a Patient-Driven Grouping Model for home health services which are considered value based care by Medicare.

More information is available at https://leader.pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/leader.bml.21122016.30 or e-mail: Daneen Sekoni (dsekoni@asha.org).

Multicultural Issues Committee
MIC is actively seeking new members. If you have questions or are interested in joining the committee, please contact Dr. Stacey D. Johnson or Mrs. Melissa Silva at info@njsha.org.

Nominations and Elections Committee
Thank you for submitting names of nominees for vacancies to NJSHA Board of Directors. The deadline for nominations was December 15, 2020.

The four three-year positions open with a term from July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2024.

The nominees will be contacted within the next month. Stay tuned, as ballots will be sent to all members for voting.

School Affairs Committee
SAC is actively seeking new members interested in volunteering their time to assist in any of a variety of ways. Writing White Papers, developing member resources, answering member questions, and working with NJSHA’s lobbyist on advocacy issues. If interested please contact info@njsha.org

SEAL
For the latest telepractice information check our trackers on the ASHA COVID site:
https://www.asha.org/siteassets/uploadedfiles/advocacy/state/state-telepractice-policy-covid-tracking.pdf
https://www.asha.org/siteassets/uploadedfiles/state-laws-and-regulations-for-school-based-telepractice.pdf

Serving Students in Other States and Countries Through Telepractice (New 11/9/20):
https://www.asha.org/advocacy/serving-students-in-other-states-and-countries-through-telepractice/

ASHA offers guidance and a virtual presentation on group teletherapy:
https://www.asha.org/Practice/Considerations-for-Group-Speech-Language-Pathology-Treatment-in-Telepractice/

The ASHA Workload Calculator: COVID-19 Edition
https://www.asha.org/slp/schools/workload-calculator/

*Are you a clinician currently providing services simultaneously to remote and in-person students live? Please contact ASHA School Services to share your experiences: schools@asha.org

VOICES
Please consider writing an article for our “Members Corner” column. We’d love to hear from SLPs and Audiologists from all over the state.

AAC Committee
The AAC Committee is actively working to increase knowledge of AAC for both members and consumers through development of brochures for the website. We generally meet on the last Thursday of each month. If anyone is interested in joining, please email info@njsha.org.

Audiology Committee

The Audiology Committee has been meeting using technology to discuss the impact of current issues that impact our members and the individuals we serve. We have focused on three areas:1) the development of a webinar to provide updates to our members (as is usually done at the NJSHA Convention, 2) the progress of the enactment of the single license bill for audiologists, and 3) planning for the audiology program at the NJSHA Convention.

First, we are pleased to report that we are having a webinar titled Grassroots in Audiology Advocacy: NJSHA is Listening on November 5th at 7:00 pm. More information and a link to register are available at https://www.njsha.org/continuing-education/town-hall-meetings/ Both NJSHA members and non-members are invited to attend.

Second, as many of you know, in March of 2019, Governor Murphy signed legislation (P.L. 2019, c. 41) that removed the need for audiologists to obtain a separate license to dispense hearing aids. That element of an audiologist’s professional work would become part of his or her audiology license. This came about as a result of a joint effort by the New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NJSHA) and the New Jersey Academy of Audiology.

However, a second step is required in order for that law to become effective and that is the passage of administrative regulations to implement the law. This required approval of the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee and the Division of Consumer Affairs, overseen by the Office of Administrative Law. After many months of waiting, the proposed regulation was finally published in the New Jersey Register on October 5, 2020. This kicks off an official 60-day comment period required for all proposed regulations. NJSHA is preparing a letter of support to be submitted to the Advisory Committee well in advance of the December 4 deadline. Following that deadline, comments will be reviewed by the Division and the Advisory Committee and after that adoption of the regulation is published in the Register, the final necessary action. Unfortunately, there is no specific time frame established between the comment period deadline and final adoption of the rule.

Third, the members of the Audiology Committee are working with the NJSHA Convention Committee to discuss options and planning for continuing educations (CE) opportunities for our members who are audiologists. NJSHA will once again be collaborating with the New Jersey Academy of Audiology to combine efforts and resources for CE. We are planning a full Thursday and Friday Audiology program line up for the NJSHA Convention scheduled for April 22-23, 2021.

The Audiology Committee welcomes new members. To find out more please email info@njsha.org subject line “Interested in joining Audiology Committee.”

Continuing Education Committee
The Continuing Education (CE) committee is looking for new members. If interested please reach out to info@njsha.org.

Convention Committee
Save the date April 22-23 for the NJSHA Annual Convention “Sea-zing the Future”. More details to follow.

Healthcare/EI Committee
The Dysphagia Subcommittee, part of the Healthcare/EI Committee has gathered all of the it’s data and will be holding a meeting on THURSDAY, 10/22 @ 7 PM to begin to work on designing the White Paper regarding issues that pertain to conducting Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES). The focus of this committee is to address the need to have an MD on the premises , who has passed a scope during his/her practice or residency. Many patients in nursing home and home health settings are unable to have this objective testing due to the fact that an MD is not on the premises at the time that the speech pathologist is present to complete the FEES. This causes delays in assessing dysphagia objectively. If you have information that you would like to share regarding FEES, or are interested in becoming involved in this subcommittee then reach out to info@njsha.org.

STAR/StAMP
The State Advocates for Medicare Policy (StAMP) Committee are meeting to design two power point presentations which are projected to be presented at the NJSHA Convention in the Spring, 2021:

  • Health Reform 101
  • Medicare 101

This will help speech pathologists and audiologists to better navigate both area.

Multicultural Issues Committee

  • Continue with MIC Mondays.
  • Virtual symposium for various university students in one forum, due to COVID and semester ending early Fall 2020.
  • Two question survey to university students to find out what they want from MIC.
  • Fall reading will feature an article instead of a book
  • Provide additional evergreen articles.
  • Continue to answer questions submitted to MIC by members and non-members.

Media/Publications Committee
Media continues to work with the PR committee to expand the use of Instagram and Facebook to highlight the history and benefits of NJSHA. Posts on social media about new resources or professional development direct members with a link to the specific content on the website. Information on the website is regularly being updated.

Private Practice Committee
The Private Practice Committee is continuing to address the recent insurance reimbursement issues, specifically the ongoing, atypical number of requests for more records or other information by Horizon NJ. If you are a NJSHA member experiencing any problems with reimbursement from Horizon or any other third-party payor, please contact the Committee at info@NJSHA.org

We are also monitoring the recent creation of a new CPT code for reimbursement for PPE. How and when we can begin to use this code will be shared with members as soon as the information is received.

School Affairs Committee
NJSHA School Affairs Committee is seeking new members for more information please contact info@njsha.org Attn: SAC

SEAL
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), within the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, issues this Question and Answer (Q & A) document in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B provision of services in the current COVID-19 environment. 9/28/2020.
https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/qa-provision-of-services-idea-part-b-09-28-2020.pdf

Audiology Committee

The Audiology Committee of NJSHA and some of the leadership of the New Jersey Academy of Audiology and a few other audiologists from around the state met online on August 12th. The purpose of the meeting was to brainstorm ideas for potential upcoming CEU events for audiologists and to consider ways to increase engagement of audiologists in both organizations. The discussion yielded may good suggestions and ideas for the committee to pursue. Stay-tuned as the Audiology committee will be meeting again in the next few weeks to finalize some plans for a CEU event. The event will include our usual Committee Update that we missed because the Convention had to be cancelled. We are always interested in having new members join the Committee please email info@njsha.org to let us know of your interest.

Convention Committee
Look for possible new opportunities to earn CEUS this summer as the Convention and Continuing Education Committees have partnered for this special endeavor. Save the date – NJSHA Convention 2021 – April 22-23, 2021 – at Ocean Place Resort and Spa in Long Branch, NJ, where we will be Sea-zing the Future!!

Continuing Education Committee
The Continuing Education (CE) committee is looking for new members. If interested please reach out to info@njsha.org.

Convention Committee
We have exciting news! The Convention Committee partnered with the Continuing Education Committee to bring our members the first ever “Virtual Mini-Convention” this past August. Dr. Valerie Johnson and Dr. Jose Centeno shared their wealth of knowledge regarding the topic of Multicultural Issues. Julie Hoffmann was riveting as she addressed Apraxia and R and Frontal/Lateral Lisps. Jennifer Drenchek-Cristiano presented crucial information as she enlightened her audience on the topics of Telespeech and Tele-AAC. If you were unable to view the live workshops, please know each was recorded and will be available, for a small cost, until the end of October. What a great way to expand your awareness and understanding of these topics while earning CEUs! We do hope many of you will take advantage of this unique opportunity. We also would like to share our save the date – NJSHA Convention 2021, April 22 – April 23, 2021. Join us as we once again plan to be “Sea-zing the Future”.

Healthcare/EI Committee
On July 28th the Healthcare Committee held a webinar, Grassroots Advocacy: NJSHA is Listening! Some of the highlights were as follows:

Lynn Nowak, NJSHA’s lobbyist also spoke at our meeting providing information regarding Telehealth/Medicine during Covid 19 and the Healthcare Transparency Act.

Mary McArdle, an Early Intervention (EI) Regional Manager in NJ conveyed that on March 17, 2020-The New Jersey Early Intervention System (NJEIS) was closed in response to COVID-19 pandemic. When it reopened on April 1, 2020 all services were offered via telehealth. The Department of Health shared that as of July 31. 2020, 61% of families are receiving at least one service from their current Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) via telehealth 20 % of families have opted to “stand by” their IFSPs services until a return to face to face services can be offered. NJEIS has begun to update policies yet again to prepare for a return to face to face services.

Catherine Curtis, Healthcare Vice-Chair, discussed the ever changing effects of COVID-19 on speech therapy in an outpatient setting. She indicated that it has been five months since New Jersey has felt the impact from the worldwide pandemic. There have been many changes in all aspects of society, with one of the biggest being in healthcare. Speech pathologists are one of the many healthcare professionals who are experiences the effects of COVID-19 on insurance coverage and provision of services.

Mary Treuer Del Ojo, who has helped to set up the Dysphagia Subcommittee, had the opportunity to provide an update on NJSHA’s role in advancing the practice of Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) in NJ.

There will be an opportunity to hear this webinar for CEUs if you missed it on July 28th. It will also be offered as a recorded presentation for members and non-members to watch starting in September upon registration.

Please reach out to info@NJSHA.org for information regarding this.

STAR/StAMP
Wondering what ASHA has done to ensure that telehealth be made permanent even for federally funded plans?

Two letters have be posted on the NJSHA website to advocate for the permanency of Medicare coverage for telehealth (a federal plan) and self-funded plans in NJ beyond the pandemic. There is a State Association Advocacy Letter Permanent Telehealth Coverage 2020 and a Member Advocacy Letter for Permanent Telehealth Coverage from ASHA to be accessed. For more information regarding insurance coverage and laws regarding teletherapy coverage also refer to the website.

Higher Education Committee
Higher Ed continued to work with the Board to keep our members informed regarding updates to supervisory and licensing issues associated with the pandemic. We sponsored an exciting and informative Supervisor’s webinar on telepractice and telesupervision that was very well attended. Our fall meeting will be scheduled soon, so any members involved or interested in higher education programs in NJ are encouraged to reach out to join us!

Multicultural Issues Committee
We will bring back the book club/journal article club started by Linda Tucker years ago. This will be an enjoyable activity for both causal and avid readers. Participation will allow us to connect and engage as a MIC community. This will be an informal and minimally structured environment.

2020 summer reading:
Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in A Racially Unjust America, By Jennifer Harvey (New York Times Best Selling Book)

Media/Publications Committee
Media is working closely with the Public Relations Committee on initiatives to increase our social media presence by frequently using these channels to provide professional updates, information and resources through these channels in addition to the website.

We continue to keep the new website current with committee resources and professional resources and links. Our COVID-19 page is also updated regularly to reflect guidance from accrediting bodies on service delivery, insurance reimbursement, and practice considerations across settings. There is also a wealth of COVID resources for practitioners.

The Media committee is also collaborating with the Membership committee on a Membership drive in which social media and the website is being used to share the many NJSHA benefits and exciting facts about NJSHA’s history.

The new website is celebrating a one year anniversary in September!

Private Practice Committee
The committee continues to:

  • research and update COVID-19 information for private practices and healthcare
  • support private practitioners with tele practice
  • actively monitor insurance policies/procedures and reimbursement for our services

Please feel free to reach out to us info@njsha.org with any questions and/or concerns you may have related to the above or any other private practice issues.

School Affairs Committee
In late July School Affairs Committee published School-Based Speech-Language Pathology Services During Emergency Situations: A Guide for Practitioners and Districts (link within website). Be sure to check it out before school starts.

SAC welcomes new members. To find out more please email info@njsha.org subject line – Interested in joining School Affairs

SEAL
“In times of significant social or civic change, linguistic creativity not only reflects the major preoccupations of the time, but also shows how people gather to talk about new challenges and contexts. As coronavirus rages on, understanding the language surrounding it will be ever more important.” Robert Lawson, April 28, 2020 The Conversation.*

We’ve learned a lot of new terms/expressions over the last several months such as, “flatten the curve”, ”herd immunity” ”social distancing”, “self-quarantine”, “aerosolized droplets”, etc. Neologisms for “Coronaspeak” have not failed to emerge as well including, “doom-scrolling”, ”Blursday”, “quarantine”, “COVID 15”, “Zoom-bomb”, and more. As linguists explain, language evolves as a way of uniting people. We have been immersed in a new digital world as professionals with new ways to communicate, as our skills also continue to evolve. Thankfully, NJSHA and ASHA continue to keep us abreast with recommendations, guidance, and resources. Uniting with our state association has never been more vital so we can continue to practice with fidelity and confidence.

With all of the changes going on, mostly significant to our profession, telepractice, there is one thing that has not changed (as of the writing of this article in August 2020). Adherence to N.J.A.C. 6A:14 continues to be required, even remotely. One example includes timelines and even maximum group sizing of 5 students, as shared on NJSHA’s August webinar entitled, “Grassroot Advocacy in Schools: NJSHA is Listening!” (recording available on NJSHA.org). The School Affairs Committee also referred SLP/SLSs to access the newly created document, “School-Based Speech-Language Pathology Services During Emergency Situations: A Guide for Practitioners and Districts”, to help clarify and provide information regarding many recently asked questions (https://www.njsha.org/pdfs/slp-emerg-sit-071420.pdf).

ASHA continues to host teleconference calls with SEALs from across the country to provide information from the national level. These occur monthly along with ongoing dialogue among the online community. During the August conference call, it was apparent that many of the states were experiencing similar challenges to New Jersey in regard to start-up. In many states, individual schools were opening using different plans while in others, schools have remained completely remote. As in New Jersey, much division and uncertainty seemed prevalent among many other states.

Telepractice- Tim Boyd, Director State Health Care & Education Affairs of ASHA presented information about telepractice. Many questions have arised regarding provision of services from across state lines. ASHA created the document, “COVID-19: TRACKING OF STATE LAWS AND REGULATIONS FOR SCHOOL-BASED TELEPRACTICE” (https://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/State-Laws-and-Regulations-for-School-Based-Telepractice.pdf), in order to help practitioners track these regulations.

Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC) -Susan Adams, Director State Legislative & Regulatory Affairs of ASHA presented information about the development of the ASLP-IC. This compact works like a driver’s license, allowing professionals to practice among participating states. New Jersey currently is not participating in this compact. It is NJSHA’s opinion that this will take away positions from those who are within the state/those holding current certifications/licensure.

Medicaid and Medicare – Laurie Alban Havens, Health Care Policy, Medicaid, and Private Health Plans of ASHA, and Sarah Warren, Health Care Policy, Medicare of ASHA shared updates on Medicaid and Medicare. With the expansion of telepractice, more people are becoming eligible for Medicaid. However, although a state may authorize the provision of telehealth, this does not necessarily mean the payer will provide reimbursement for it. State-by-state tracking of Medicaid for telepractice is available at https://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/COVID-19-State-Medicaid-Telepractice-Policy-Tracking.pdf. NJSHA also continues to provide up-to-date information at https://www.njsha.org/professionals-resources/response-to-covid-19/.

There are proposed changes to Medicare for 2021 including significant cuts. As all agree, primary care physicians are currently undervalued. However in order for Medicare to implement increases to physicians, they have to take away money from other providers types. “CMS projects a 7% decrease in payment for audiology services and a 9% decrease for speech-language pathology services beginning in 2021’” (https://www.asha.org/News/2020/2021-Medicare-Part-B-Proposed-Rule-Includes-Coding-Changes-Significant-Payment-Cuts/). ASHA advocates are trying to convince congress to increase funding since this would be unsustainable.

Federal Education Policy Updates –

Eric Masten, Director of Federal Affairs, Education of ASHA discussed updates related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by President Trump. This provided $30.75 billion for education stabilization. The Act also included waivers for ESSA, GEPA, HEA. More information may be found by visiting: https://www.asha.org/News/2020/President-Trump-Issues-Executive-Order-Memoranda-Related-to-COVID19/. Additional resources may be found in the guide that NJSHA’s SAC recently made available, referenced above.

Erik Lazdins, Associate Director, Federal Affairs of ASHA provided information regarding a new priority in advocacy efforts to fund Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In July 2020, “The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a funding bill, which includes increases for the IDEA, level funding for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs, and increased research funding for fiscal year (FY) 2021” (https://www.asha.org/news/2020/house-passes-fy-2021-funding-bill-includes-idea-ehdi-and-research-funding/).

For more information, questions or to share your concerns, please do not hesitate to email me at info@njsha.org.

https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-has-led-to-an-explosion-of-new-words-and-phrases-and-that-helps-us-cope-136909

VOICES
We have a new “Members Corner” and encourage all NJSHA members to submit articles of interest.

Looking for previous Committee News? Visit our Committee News Archives page.

AAC Committee
The next AAC Committee meeting will be held on June 25th at 7:30 via Zoom. If you are interested in getting involved with the committee, please email Barbra Seltzer at info@njsha.org.

Convention Committee
Look for possible new opportunities to earn CEUS this summer as the Convention and Continuing Education Committees have partnered for this special endeavor. Save the date – NJSHA Convention 2021 – April 22-23, 2021 – at Ocean Place Resort and Spa in Long Branch, NJ, where we will be Sea-zing the Future!!

Multicultural Issues Committee
Have you seen our Multicultural Mondays posts on NJSHA’s social media accounts? Make sure to visit our page in Member Resources section for quick links to relevant information.

Private Practice Committee
The committee has worked on:

  • Assisting with the Covid-19 facts page for private practice and healthcare
  • Supporting continued telepractice extensions past the June cut off dates
  • Creation of brochures on orofacial myology for professionals and the public as an advocacy for our profession.

School Affairs Committee
SAC continues to answer the many questions that have come in from members on all things telepractice and COVID-19 related. We continue to develop updates for the website based upon the questions that have been received. We have had several Committee meetings to address specific issues related to COVID-19 and service provision.

VOICES
The Editorial Board of Voices hopes you enjoyed the online version of the Spring 2020 issue. Please check your mail for the Summer issue!

AAC Committee
The next meeting will be 5/27 at 7:30 via Zoom. Link will be sent via email before the meeting date.

Audiology Committee
The Audiology Committee has had virtual meetings and email follow-up to discuss current issues impacting our members and the populations we serve. Priority issues include planning for convention 2021 and movement of the single license bill, as well as continued collaboration with NJAA to discuss educational audiology practices in NJ.

  • Convention 2021: Following the difficult but necessary decision to cancel the NJSHA convention scheduled for April 2020, members of the Audiology Committee are working with the NJSHA Convention Committee to discuss options and planning for CE opportunities for our audiologist membership. We are pleased that NJSHA will once again be collaborating with the New Jersey Academy of Audiology to combine efforts and resources for CE. Our hope is to offer expanded Audiology programming at the 2021 NJSHA Convention. Once we have Board approval, we will meet to plan a full Thursday and Friday Audiology program line up for the NJSHA Convention scheduled for April 22-23, 2021.
  • Single License: At the request of the Audiology Committee, letters from NJSHA were sent to the NJ Audiology and Speech Language Pathology Advisory Committee and the two NJ legislators who sponsored our Single License bill (Senator Diegnan and Assemblywoman Huttle) to inquire about the delay in implementing single licensure for audiologists. The letters reminded the licensing board and the legislators that Governor Murphy signed the bill in March 2019, and the Advisory Committee at their 3/21/19 meeting agreed to amend the Scope of Practice regulations for certain audiologists to include the fitting and dispensing of hearing aids, yet the process has not yet moved forward. The letters stressed the burdens that these delays have created for practicing audiologists and new graduates. We have asked that these entities weigh in with the Division of Consumer Affairs to investigate the delay and urge them to act on this bill. The Audiology Committee will ask NJSHA’s legislative agents to follow up on the letters within 2 weeks unless a response is received earlier.
  • Educational Audiology: A goal for the Audiology Committee for 2020 is to evaluate educational audiology processes in NJ and work with NJAA to further define “educational audiologist” and the scope of audiology services in schools. A working group of representatives from both professional organizations plans to investigate educational audiology practices in other states and confer with experts in the profession on how we may enhance service delivery in NJ. The NJSHA Board registered support for this project at the January meeting.

Convention Committee
As you are well aware, Convention 2020 has been cancelled. Although we are extremely saddened and disappointed, this unprecedented action was necessary for the safety and health of our members. The Convention Committee wants you to know we are working diligently preparing for 2021. We will keep you posted with the details as they unfold. We sincerely hope to be “Sea-zing the Future” with you at Convention 2021, April 22-23. Most of all, we wish you and all your loved ones continued good health and safety.

Healthcare/EI Committee

  • Early Intervention is up and running and flourishing with Telehealth. The Department of Health is supportive of Telehealth and the use of the Telephone if families do not have access to a screen/camera or a smart phone. They have not endorsed E-Vite. The session are 100% coaching with the parents in the drivers seat. Speech Pathologists are well prepared as they have the opportunity to see the “real world” viewing siblings during play interactions and their clients. Parents are being provided strategies to enrich their interactions with their children.
  • On 4/14/2020, the governor signed a bill permitting professional/occupational licensing boards to reactivate their NJ licenses of certain professions during the state of public health emergency. Pragmatically, this has facilitated speech pathologists’ abilities to acquired their NJ licenses within one day when the licensing board’s office is essentially closed.The Medical Assistance Advisory Council met on 4/22/2020. Medicaid will cover speech, physical, and occupational therapy including ABA up to the age of 13. The federal mandate to implement Electronic Visit Verification for home health services remains in effect and must be implemented by 1/1/2021. In light of COVID 19, Telehealth rules have been relaxed. Members may receive care from health care providers at home using Telephonic outreach: using a regular phone or smartphone apps. NJ FamilyCare expanded it’s partnership with Logisticare to enable food delivery to some beneficiaries, and transportation of some providers like home health aides to member’s homes. Developmental Disabilities Division is permitting some family members who provide care to be paid as caregivers due to the staffing shortages. NJ FamilyCare premiums for families who normally pay have been suspended starting in March. Online applications are recommended to apply for or to extend Medicaid coverage during this emergency. The phone support line is 1-800-701-0710.

STAR/StAMP
There are three types of communication services: Telehealth which is face-face, Telephone communication which is non-face to face, and E-Visits.

Telehealth Services are covered by some commercial payors and Medicaid when the members have this coverage in their plans. Many co-pays and co-insurances are waived; however, not the deductibles. The patient/client must have a camera enabled device for Telehealth. The therapy for adults must be conducted in private settings due to HIPPA and consent for Telehealth must be obtained. Medical records must be kept with time in/time out recorded for the session. CPT codes for manual therapies may not be applied. Modifiers like “GT” or “95” must be applied for audio/visual telecommunication depending on the insurance company. Telehealth Place of Service Code must also be applied. At this time, Medicare is not covering speech, physical, or occupational therapies as the professionals are regarded as suppliers. Private practices will be eligible for Medicare coverage first over outpatient hospital settings due to professional billing verses facility billing.

Graduate Student Clinicians who are enrolled in CAA-accredited or CAA-candidacy programs are permitted between 3/16/2020 through 5/31/2020 to engage in Telepractice service delivery when receiving 100% real time direct Telesupervision of the session.

Telephone services are covered by all payors at this time. CPT Codes 98966-98968 are billed according to minutes of medical discussion. Telephone services are provided to patients who are unable to meet the telehealth equipment requirement. There is a Place of Service code. The telephone call may not relate to a service performed and reported within previous seven days and does not lead to a visit within the next 24 hours. For Medicare, the therapist may not bill a second interaction within seven days post visit. GP Modifier is required as a “sometimes therapy” for Medicare.

E-Visits may be billed by speech pathologists; however, not audiologists as of 3/22/2020. E-Visits were considered to be outside the audiology diagnostic benefit category. There are three G Codes: G2061-G2063 which are based on total amount of cumulative time e-mailing during a seven day period. A qualified non-physician healthcare professional conducts an online assessment or treatment for an established/existing patient on program. Documentation of the E-Visits are required with time in and time out. The professional may bill once within the seven days. E-Visits are subject to the 20% coinsurance payment.

Higher Education Committee
The Higher Ed Committee has been working diligently in these unprecedented times to identify student and academic issues and provide solutions as a result of COVID-19. Some highlights of their efforts include:

  • The Supervisor’s CE will be a live webinar on Wednesday, May 13 from 6:30 – 8:30. Topic has been changed to best practices for telepractice and telesupervision of graduate students and will be presented by Jennifer Drencheck-Cristiano. The original date was changed so that supervisors can have needed information as soon as possible/before summer sessions begin.
  • Registration is now open at this link for clinical supervisors: https://www.njsha.org/continuing-education/conferences/#supervisor
  • The student awards ceremony will now be held virtually on Wednesday May 20 at 7 pm.
  • Please see the NJSHA Members site for the most up to date Grad Student programs information, CF issues information and all other related information as it is frequently changing

Legislative Committee
Please go to the COVID-19 section for the latest legislative updates and other resources.

Multicultural Issues Committee
The Multicultural Issues Committee is actively seeking new members. If you have any questions or are interested in joining the committee, please contact the Multicultural Issues Committee at info@njsha.org.