Governmental Affairs Update - February 2016

02/01/2016 7:09 PM | Anonymous












Illinois Speech Pathology and Audiology Practice Act 
is Scheduled to Sunset January 1, 2018

Our practice act is scheduled to be repealed (sunset) on January 1, 2018. As a result, ILAA will begin to explore the Act and Rules and spearhead the extension of our Practice Act. This work must be accomplished in 2016 for an early 2017 introduction. It is at this time that we can make modifications to the Act. Some potential modifications that are being discussed are related to:

  • Scope of practice
  • Continuing education
  • Telemedicine
  • Standards of care
  • Use of audiology assistants

ILAA will be forming a taskforce to undertake this legislative effort. We strongly encourage any ILAA member who is interested in being involved to volunteer for the group. All members are welcome. If you are interested in being engaged in this process, please email Kim Cavitt, Vice President of Governmental Affairs, at GovernmentAffairs@ILAudiology.org. We plan to first convene the taskforce in within the next month.

News from Springfield and Our Lobbying Firm

HFS (Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services or Medicaid) continues to process bills to the Comptroller. While there are no holds on Medicaid bills at the agency level, cash flow continues to cause delays in payments to providers. Expedited providers are generally being paid within 30 days of HFS receiving a bill. MCOs (Managed Medicaid Programs administered by private insurers) have been paid the November capitation payment, so providers should be receiving payments through MCOs in a timely manner. A $1.28 billion backlog of HFS bills remains at the Comptroller's office due to cash flow. (This does not include MCOs.) 

Managed Medicaid programs (MCOs) have reached a 60% penetration rate and is expected to be at 66% by June 30th. Together for Health, is no longer providing care.

The State continues to revalidate Medicaid providers, with more than 300,000 providers in the pipeline. Due to the backlog, the time period for re-evaluation has been extended from March to June.

HFS will be working to develop specific pay-for-performance measures for MCOs. These would be PQRS-like measures. The Department has met with the MCO plans and will make the process transparent through the Quality Care Subcommittee. 2015 performance measure results will not be available until mid-2016. At this point these measures only appear to apply to primary care physicians.

New Hearing Instrument Specialist Regulations
Went Into 
Effect on January 1, 2016

The Hearing Instrument Consumer Protection Act was extended, effective January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2026.

You can view the Act by clicking here.

The key changes are:

  • Requires that the Department of Public Health use the International Hearing Society's licensure exam in licensing hearing instrument dispensers. Provides that the Department of Public Health determine an exam administration fee by rule to add to the exam fee of the International Hearing Society.

  • Requires that licensed hearing instrument dispensers earn at least one hour of continuing education credit in Illinois law and ethics. Provides that continuing education offered by a college, university, or bar association, the International Hearing Society, the Illinois Academy of Audiology, or the Illinois Hearing Society regarding Illinois law and ethics shall be accepted toward satisfaction of this continuing education requirement.

  • Allows for changes to reciprocity in licensure. The Department shall issue a license to any hearing instrument dispenser who (i) has been certified by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences and has been actively practicing for a minimum of 5 years or (ii) has a valid license as a hearing instrument dispenser, or its equivalent, from another state that has an examination that is comparable to the examination required under this Act or is provided by the International Hearing Society, (iii) has completed the specific academic and training requirements, or their equivalent, under this Act, (iv) has been actively practicing as a hearing instrument dispenser for at least 3 months or is certified by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences, and (v) has paid the required fee.

Hearing Aid Mandate Legislation in the State Legislature

SB0097/HB2709 are current proposed pieces of legislation currently being considered in the Illinois General Assembly. These bills state:

“Amends the Illinois Insurance Code, the Voluntary Health Services Plans Act, and the Voluntary Health Services Plans Act to require coverage for hearing instruments and related services for minors when a hearing care professional prescribes a hearing instrument. Provides that an insurer shall provide coverage for up to $2,500 per hearing aid per insured's hearing-impaired ear subject to certain restrictions. Provides that an insurer shall not be required to pay a claim if the insured filed such a claim 36 months prior to the date of filing the claim with the insurer and the claim was paid by any insurer.”

These bills are currently in their respective Rules committees. ILAA will closely monitor these pieces of legislation and reach out to their chief sponsors in the Illinois House and Senate for additional guidance. We will keep you abreast on the status of these bills.

Complaints Regarding Hearing Instrument
Specialists and Audiologists

There have been some concerns expressed some concerns regarding the practices of other providers, specifically hearing instrument specialists.

Both the Hearing Instrument Consumer Protection Act and Rules and the Speech Pathology and Audiology Practice Act and Rules are consumer protection laws. Each govern a respective profession. When these laws are violated, individuals have the right to file complaints. Complaints take six to 12 months to be reviewed and processed.

In Illinois, a “Hearing instrument dispenser" means a person who is a hearing care professional that engages in the selling, practice of fitting, selecting, recommending, dispensing, or servicing of hearing instruments or the testing for means of hearing instrument selection or who advertises or displays a sign or represents himself or herself as a person who practices the testing, fitting, selecting, servicing, dispensing, or selling of hearing instruments. Also, the "Practice of fitting, dispensing, or servicing of hearing instruments" means the measurement of human hearing with an audiometer, calibrated to the current American National Standard Institute standards, for the purpose of making selections, recommendations, adaptions, services, or sales of hearing instruments including the making of earmolds as a part of the hearing instrument”.

It is vital that we educate ourselves on the regulations that govern hearing aid dispensing and audiology in the state. Links to the regulations are listed below.

The Hearing Instrument Consumer Protection Act and Code: http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/vision-hearing/hearing-instrument-consumer-protection-program

The Illinois Speech Pathology and Audiology Practice Act and Rules: http://www.idfpr.com/profs/SpeechLangAudio.asp

If you have concrete evidence of a hearing instrument specialist is performing any of the procedures listed below, you may have cause to file a complaint against the provider or business entity:

  • Tinnitus evaluation
  • Tinnitus management
  • Cerumen removal
  • Aural rehabilitation
  • Auditory prosthetic device candidacy determination
  • Auditory prosthetic device programming
  • Tympanometry/immittance testing
  • Diagnostic hearing testing (not for the purpose of making selections, recommendations, adaptions, services or sales of hearing instruments)

Complaints against other providers can be filed with these entities:

The Illinois Academy of Audiology (ILAA) can assist its members with questions about the complaint process. Please contact ILAA Executive Director Brian S. Bailey at  Brian@ILAudiology.org

Government Relations Wants You

Any ILAA member who is interested in being involved in the Governmental Affairs Committee, please contact Kim Cavitt at GovernmentAffairs@ILAudiology.org. All members are welcome!



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ILLINOIS ACADEMY OF AUDIOLOGY
The Voice of Audiology in Illinois
Phone: (630) 833-4220
E-Mail: Info@ILAudiology.org
Web: www.ILAudiology.org
275 N. York Street, Suite 401
Elmhurst, IL 60126-2752








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