Have You Heard? (Spring 2021)

AAA, ADA, and ASHA Unite on World Hearing Day to Support Critical Audiology Legislation for Medicare Beneficiaries
Introduced on March 3, 2021 by Representatives Tom Rice (R-SC) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA), with more than 20 bipartisan original co-sponsors, the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (MAASA) of 2021 will enhance the Medicare benefit by providing critical direct access to both diagnostic and therapeutic services provided by audiologists. The Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) endorse this legislation as a top priority to ensure expedient and optimal hearing and balance health care for the older adult population in the United States.

The legislation will remove unnecessary barriers to allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive appropriate, timely, and cost-effective audiologic care. This legislation can improve outcomes for beneficiaries by allowing direct access to audiologic services and streamlining Medicare coverage policies so that audiologists can provide the full range of Medicare-covered diagnostic and treatment services that correspond to their scope of practice. The legislation would also reclassify audiologists as practitioners, which is consistent with the way Medicare recognizes other non-physician providers, such as clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and advanced practice registered nurses. Classification as practitioners under Medicare would enable audiologists to furnish services through telehealth, ensuring continuity of hearing health care in the time of public health emergencies such as COVID-19. The bill garnered significant bipartisan support last Congress with 65 cosponsors.

The introduction of MAASA coincides with annual World Hearing Day. This public awareness event spearheaded by the World Hearing Organization (WHO) includes a global call for action to address hearing loss and ear diseases across the life course. Projecting that 1 in 4 people around the world will suffer from hearing loss by 2050, the WHO has released the first ever World Report on Hearing to call attention to the need for action across nations.

AAA, ADA, and ASHA continue their collaborative efforts to advance a unified approach to expanding access to and coverage of audiology services to the millions of Americans in the Medicare system. A similar bill introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) in the last Congress also secured significant bipartisan support.

For more information, visit:
American Academy of Audiology at www.audiology.org
Academy of Doctors of Audiology at www.audiologist.org
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at www.asha.org    
Meet the Student Academy of Doctors of Audiology (SADA) Leaders
Glenn Elms is a 4th year Au.D. student at Salus University. His interests include geriatrics, tinnitus relief, and balance disorders. He currently is an extern at a private practice in Lancaster, PA where he sees adult and pediatric hearing aid fittings, tinnitus evaluations, and newborn hearing screenings. He uses his free time during quarantine to cook more and learn how to knit. He was on the board last year as member relations chair and is excited to serve as president this year.

Tamahra Navarrete
is a 1st year Au.D. student at A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona with an undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Arizona State University. Her interests include both geriatrics and pediatrics, cochlear implants, intraoperative monitoring, and advocating and raising awareness for underserved communities. In her spare time, Tamahra enjoys hiking, weight training, reading, and spending time with her son Mason and the rest of her family.

Membership Relations Chair
Lucky Nanduri
is a first year Au.D. student attending Northwestern University. She is currently exploring her interests in audiology through her classes but hopes to work in a VA hospital after graduating. A fun fact about Lucky is that she enjoys doing makeup.

Fundraising Chair
Heather Wibberley
is a second year Au. D student at Towson University in Towson, MD. She is interested in pediatric and geriatric audiology, with a goal of increasing access to hearing health care to individuals in underserved communities. She is excited to be a part of SADA in her efforts to advocate for audiology as a profession and patients we serve. In her spare time, she likes to read, cook, run, and spend time outdoors.

Advocacy Chair
Ce’Nandra Frankin
is currently a second year Au.D student at Idaho State University. Ce’Nandra is excited to learn more about how to advocate for the field of audiology. Her clinical interests include cochlear implants, vestibular testing/ treatment and working with special populations such as children and persons that are bilingual. Her hobbies include dancing, cooking, going to the gym and hiking in the mountains.

Education Co-Chair
Cindy Jimenez
is a second-year Au.D. student at A.T. Still University in Arizona. After being a student liaison for SADA in Fall 2019, she decided to become more involved with SADA. She enjoys gathering information and sharing it with others. So, she stepped up and decided to run for the education chair. I am proud and honored to share this role with Garrett Findlater. Her goal as an aspiring audiologist is to connect with patients and their loved ones to improve their quality of life. She would love to help people overcome any hearing and balance obstacles that have caused a significant impact on their life. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and going on mini-adventures.

Education Co-Chair
Garrett Findlater
is a first year Au. D student at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is most interested in electrophysiology and its application in intraoperative monitoring. He is passionate about the education of future audiology students and hopes to enrich the resources available for current Au.D. students during his time as a co-chair. In his leisure time he likes to kayak, cook spicy Thai food and read anything by John Irving.

Communication Co-Chair
Kristen Grosso
is a current SADA communication Co-chair who is grateful to share this position with Abigail Possinger. Her current role as the Diversity and Inclusion chair of her audiology cohort is what gave her the confidence to take on this position in SADA. She is a first-year student at Wayne State University and is currently gaining experience through clinical rotations at the Henry Ford Hospitals in Michigan. She is entering this field with an interest in private practice, research in vestibular disorders and rehabilitation. When she isn't occupied by school, Kristen enjoys drawing, traveling, and playing the piano.

Communication Co-Chair
Abigail Possinger
is the current SADA communications co-chair. She brings experience to the table through her current role as secretary of her audiology cohort and her role as a Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology student ambassador. She is a fourth-year student at Salus University and is currently completing her externship at The Hearing Center at Connecticut ENT Medical and Surgical Specialists, PC. She enjoys working with pediatric patients, the D/deaf community, and a range of hearing assistive technologies. In her spare time, she practices her skills for roller derby and watches her favorite horror movies with her girlfriend and their pets.

Please contact info@audiologist.org to volunteer on a SADA committee.    
In Memoriam: Michael K. Thelen, Au.D.
Neenah, Wisconsin - Michael K. Thelen passed away peacefully at home in the presence of his loving family on Friday, January 15. He was born on September 1, 1948 in Menasha and lived in Neenah and spent most of his life in the surrounding cities of the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin.

Michael was passionate about Audiology and was a torchbearer for the Au.D. movement. He was an active and longstanding member of ADA when it was the Academy of Dispensing Audiologists and all the members were able to fit in one room. In 1995 he was one of 200 audiologists to meet in Atlanta for the Au.D. Standards and Equivalency Conference. He completed his Au.D. degree from Arizona School of Health Sciences, AT Still University. He started his own practice, Audiology & Hearing Services Inc. in 1984 and retired from practice in March 2018.

If starting and running his practice and working as a torchbearer for the Au.D. movement wasn’t enough to fill his days, he served eight years as the audiologist on the Hearing and Speech Examining Board of the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing, was president of the Wisconsin Alliance of Hearing Professionals, and was voted Wisconsin’s “Audiologist of the Year” in 2004. He was active in the Wisconsin Speech and Hearing Association’s audiology network, working tirelessly to promote the profession that he loved and challenging others to higher standards of patient care and practice.

Michael leaves a legacy of advocacy and service not only to his profession but to his patients. He contacted area insurance providers and persuaded them to include insurance coverage for hearing instruments in their plans. This led to other insurance plans around the state adding these benefits to remain competitive.

In his obituary, his family noted, “Michael consistently demonstrated living life to the fullest including learning to fly a plane, sail, earning the Civilian Medal of Gallantry, working with the Special Olympics, and swimming across Lake Winnebago. An avid traveler, Michael was able to see many parts of the world and enjoyed numerous hobbies such as golf, riding his Harleys, and tinkering around his home. In the end, his best and favorite accomplishments were being a husband, dad, and a grandfather. In recent years, his grandchildren were his newest passion and the light of his life."

Michael is survived by Cheryl, his loving wife of 47 years, his children Kimberly (Eric) Phillips, Michele (Ryan) Tuomi, and grandchildren, Tate, Trent, Brooke, and Kyla.

Submitted to ADA by Veronica H. Heide, and Doreen Jensen colleagues and friends of Michael for many years.