Recently I asked readers to contact their legislators and request Medicare coverage for speech therapy via telehealth. Telepractice has been utilized for quite a few years by speech-language pathologists, and numerous published studies have show that therapy delivered this way can be as effective as face:face treatment in an office or other out-patient setting. Here at Voice Aerobics, I have offered telepractice and Online Coaching for years, and last month, the LOUD Crowd, a weekly speech class for people with Parkinson’s moved online with 12 members participating, many with no prior experience with web-based communication platforms.
In response to the lobbying efforts of ASHA (American Speech-Language Hearing Association) members, Medicare will now temporarily cover telehealth services provided by audiologists and speech-language pathologists via the waiver authority it was granted by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136).
Medicare reimbursement of telehealth services provided by audiologists and SLPs will only last the duration of the public health emergency (PHE) and is retroactive to March 1, 2020.
This is a great benefit to Medicare recipients, and an opportunity for speech-language pathologists to have a safe alternative to providing speech, voice, and swallowing treatment to vulnerable patients. If you are a current patient who has been on medical hold, or a new patient needing speech therapy treatment, please contact the office to schedule an appointment.
A no cost Online Coaching session is always available to anyone who purchases a Voice Aerobics product or program.
Voice Aerobics 2020 Graduate Student Scholarship
May of 2020 will be the eighth year that a scholarship is awarded to a graduate student in speech-language pathology. The scholarship was started as a way of giving back to the profession of speech-language pathology that has brought a sense of purpose to my own life.
I was already working as an ER nurse when I returned to school to obtain my degree in speech-language pathology, and I remember the financial challenges I faced as I balanced paying for rent and a car payment with textbooks and tuition. But, like many current students, you keep your eye on the goal and persevere towards attaining your degree.
This year, due to closures related to the pandemic I find myself feeling a little anxious and uncertain about the sustainability of my private practice and business, and I imagine that many students, are also anxious about the near future, with uncertainty about completing their studies and paying their bills.
150 applications were received, and once again, I will struggle with selecting a recipient. I was struck this year, by the number of applicants who first learned of our profession because a family member struggled with a communication impairment. This shouldn’t be a surprise since one in 25 Americans experience a swallowing problem, between 6 and 8 million individuals in the United States have some form of language impairment, and approximately 7.5 million people have trouble using their voices.
Speak Up. Remember that good communication is a universal right for all. Be sure to advocate for yourself if you are not able to speak well, hear or understand. If you have a neurodegenerative disease diagnosis like Parkinson’s, that is associated with a decline in speech, voice and swallowing, ask your neurologist for a referral to a speech-language pathologist.
Canine Separation Anxiety….another COVID casualty?
Since eight weeks of age, lui, my toy poodle has come to the office with me. He greets the patients and then quietly retreats to his crate where he waits for the end of the session at which time he returns for a few rubs good- by.
After closing the office at the end of March due to the pandemic, all of my work has been from home. Each day I conduct a few telepractice visits, and as soon as lui hears the voice of my patient, he is on my lap. At 4pm every day, we take a 30 minute nap while watching TV, and our new routine has created a bit of laziness in me and increased attachment in lui. So, I’ve been wondering..what will be the emotional state of our dogs when their humans must return to work and are once again are out of the house all day? Will we hear collective howling?
My MissionTo enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP * FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice
Katherine, fortunately, now Medicare (CMS) has expanded payment/coverage to include speech therapy under Med-B. Billing, however, can be a big headache with the various secondary payers, and my suggestion would be to find a good billing company. If you would like the contact for my billing person, feel free to email me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I appreciate your emails and information you share! How do I get approved to provide speech therapy to my Medicare B’s? The whole billing part is what is keeping me from doing teletherapy with my Parkinson’s patients. I miss them and know they are going through this time without therapy. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!