Legislative Issues

Current NCAA Legislative and Policy Issues

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Interstate Compact

The Audiology and Speech Language Pathology Interstate Compact increases public access to audiology and speech-language pathology services by providing for the mutual recognition of other member state licenses. The Compact enhances a state's ability to protect the public's health and safety, enhances the exchange of licensure, investigative and disciplinary information between member states, allows for the use of tele-health technology to facilitate increased access to audiology and speech-language pathology services and supports the spouses of relocating active-duty military personnel.

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Audiology assistant

Audiology Assistants Enhancements

The practice of Audiology has changed dramatically over the last few decades. Audiologists and audiology assistants are now educated, trained and qualified to do many things that they were not in the past.  And, as we all know, technological change has revolutionized the practice of audiology as well.

It was obvious that audiology assistants in North Carolina were under-utilized when compared to their counterparts in other states.  The COVID-19 pandemic created an expanded need for tele-medicine across the health care space and this is true of audiology as well.  Following on Emergency Declaration 116 by Governor Cooper, the NCAA was successful in securing an emergency rule expanding the ability of audiology assistants to work in tele-medicine.  Those emergency rules have recently been changed to “temporary rules” and the next step is to create “permanent rules” allowing for an expended role for audiology assistants.

Working toward the permanent rule is an NCAA priority in 2021. 

Take Action

As an NCAA  member there is a role that ONLY YOU can play.  No one can take your place.  Here are a few steps you can take now:

  • Educate yourself further on the issue by reviewing the information found under the “NCAA Action” and “MORE INFO” buttons on the home page
  • As the rule making process moves forward there will be an opportunity for public hearings. Audiologists and their assistants need to make their voices heard during that process.
  • Reach out to the doctors that you have relationships with and ask them to support this and other efforts to allow audiologists to practice at the top of their license, assisting doctors to provide the best possible care for our patients.
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TAKE ACTION

What you can do NOW

THE STEPS

As an NCAA  member there is a role that ONLY YOU can play.  No one can take your place.  Here are a few steps you can take now:  

  • Educate yourself further on the issue by reviewing the information found under the “NCAA Action” and “MORE INFO” buttons on the home page
  • As the rule making process moves forward there will be an opportunity for public hearings. Audiologists and their assistants need to make their voices heard during that process.
  • Reach out to the doctors that you have relationships with and ask them to support this and other efforts to allow audiologists to practice at the top of their license, assisting doctors to provide the best possible care for our patients.
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ACCESS BILL

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THE BILL

The Reason for the Proposed Temporary Rule was stated as follows:

A serious and unforeseen threat to the public health, safety or welfare. On March 10, 2020, the Governor of North Carolina, by issuing Executive Order No. 116, declared a state of emergency to coordinate a response and enact protective measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. The COVID-19, previously unidentified in humans, spreads easily from person to person. Once an outbreak of the COVID19 begins, it is difficult to contain. The World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services have declared COVID-19 a public health threat and emergency. On March 12, 2020, the Governor of North Carolina and the NC Department of Health and Human Services recommended high risk persons stay at home, that schools implement plans for distance or e-learning, that employers and employees use teleworking technologies, and that mass gatherings should cancel, postpone, and modify these events or offer online streaming services. Additionally, it is in the public's best interest to expand the pool of healthcare providers, especially in settings where there are high risk individuals (nursing homes, assisted living facilities, etc.) and allow audiology assistants to perform limited tasks that are generally performed by audiologists. This rule alleviates access to health care concerns during the COVID-19 outbreak and promotes the public safety of patients. 

The temporary rule can be found here:

https://files.nc.gov/ncoah/documents/Rules/21-NCAC-64-.0108-.1101-.1105-proposed-temporary-rules.pdf

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NCAA ACTION

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February and Early March 2020

Discussions between NCAA leadership, Audiology Board members and Nahale Kalfas, legal council to the Board on the role that Audiology can play in addressing the pandemic.  Out of these discussions came the idea of expanding the role of audiology assistants and the process of drafting an emergency rule. Proposed language was drafted and reviewed a number of times.  That process led to the language in executive order No. 116 below.

March 10, 2020 

Governor Cooper issues Executive Order No. 116 declaring a state of emergency and enacting measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, enhance services and the pool of healthcare providers and allow audiology assistants to perform limited tasks generally performed by audiologists. The Board of Examiners for Speech and Language Pathologists and Audiologists signaled their intention to adopt the rule.

April 24, 2020

The Codifier of Rules approved the rules as emergency rules and received for publication the notice of making them into a temporary rule on May 29th.

May 27, 2020

Philip Griffin discusses the rules making process granting audiology assistants greater latitude in their practice in an article called: “Telehealth Audiologist Assistant Rule Approved to Begin Telehealth Services Statewide”  appearing in a publication of the Speech and Hearing Sciences division of the UNC School of Medicine.  You can find the article here.

May 29, 2020

Emergency rule is changed to a temporary rule.  You can find the temporary rule here.

Sept, 17 2020

We expect the temporary rules to be made into permanent rules at the Sept 17 meeting of the Office of Administrative Hearings.  There may be some small changes to the temporary rules to satisfy legal formatting requirements. 

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ear diagram

Update of Audiology Statues

The Statutes Governing the Practice of Audiology in North Carolina are badly outdated.  They no longer reflect best practices, the current way that Audiologists are trained or the changes that technology have brought to the profession. NCAA plans to bring a significant update of the statutes during the 2020 session.

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BILL IN PROGRESS

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COVID-19 and Audiology

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives.  The practice of Audiology has not been exempt from its impact.   The General Assembly enacted some measures that affect the practice of audiology during the  pandemic, including protections for practitioners.

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ACCESS BILL

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THE BILL

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NCAA ACTION

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MORE INFO

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