By Cyndee Williams Bowen, SLP
I live and work in Florida. The state of “dangling chads” during the 2000 election. The state of “stand your ground” gun laws. This morning I received a message from my state professional organization, and it contained a link to this article about the debate among Florida lawmakers regarding expansion and regulation of telemedicine. The article cites physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists as stakeholders in the conversation. Although our Florida Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (FLASHA) sent the article to its membership, professionals in communication sciences and disorders are not mentioned.
I have a major question to ask:
Are Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists present and actively engaged in these conversations?
If not we really need to be! I’d like to think that the important work we do will be recognized and valued in any new regulations that result from this discussion. Past history makes me a little less than confident on that score. A prime example is the national problem of the Medicare Therapy Cap, where Physical Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology share the same annual benefit cap that Occupational Therapy is allowed alone. It was enacted in error and creates a thread of bureaucratic red tape in order to provide services to beneficiaries who require treatment beyond the limit. Instead of correcting it and moving forward more efficiently, our lawmakers revisit and extend the thing year after year after year. It is a prime example of how decisions made without understanding and considering the practices and benefits provided by rehabilitation professionals have the potential to cripple our work and businesses.
I hate to see that happen with telepractice in Florida. FLASHA, please tell me you are at the table on this one!
Cyndee Williams Bowen, MS, CCC-SLP owns Bowen Speech-Language Therapy, LLC in Clearwater, FL. She is committed to collaboration with expertise and creativity for empowered communication, swallowing, and vocal quality. Visit the Bowen Speech Website for more information.