President's Message: Lobbying Toward the Finish Line

Author: Kristin Davis, Au.D

On May 11, 2022, the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) hosted another virtual lobby day. Eighty-three participants met with seventy-seven legislative offices for a push for additional co-sponsors for the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (MAASA) legislation (S 1731, HR 1587). In preparation for the virtual fly-in, ADA held online trainings to increase participants’ confidence and comfort level to ensure successful meeting outcomes. On May the Fourth, thirty-seven individuals learned how to Lobby Like a Jedi and had a great evening reviewing MAASA lobbying points with a Star Wars theme. On May 5th, twenty-five individuals spent part of their Cinco de Mayo participating in the Uno, Dos, Tres, MAASA role-playing lobby day simulation.

As many of you know, for the past several years, all three national audiology organizations, ADA, AAA, and ASHA have been working together for the passage of MAASA. If we want to move MAASA over the finish line this year, it is time for us all to individually engage to take the work of the past ten years to completion. 2022 presents audiology with the best opportunity we have had to date, as well as being a realistic closing window for the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act to pass anytime in the near future. It does not matter if you have NEVER been engaged before; it is currently time for all hands-on-deck. ADA is committed to making this happen, but it is going to take a concerted effort from as many audiologists as possible if this is going to happen!

There are multiple ways to contribute while staying within your comfort zone. If you do not feel ready to meet with legislative staff, then donate financially—no amount is too little (or too big). The reality is that it takes money to keep MAASA moving forward. Our lobbyist’s time costs money, as it should. While Prime Policy has been collaborating with us all these years and has, I believe, a level of personal investment to pass MAASA, it still will never be the same level of investment audiologists SHOULD have for MAASA.

If you have the time and are willing to meet with your legislators, it is not too late; ADA can facilitate meetings with your Senators and Representatives virtually! It is also a great idea to have a patient or team member join you, if possible. During the virtual fly-in, several audiologists participated in meetings which were not for their home state. I can, without reservation, share that the legislative offices would much rather have heard from any audiologist from their home state, versus those of us from other areas of the country. Despite this, there was still engagement, and follow-up is on-going.

Many legislators are now taking in-person meetings in their districts. Just last week, Congresswoman Mace’s office in South Carolina took an in-person meeting with me. If I can get comfortable doing this, you can too! Increasing the number of bipartisan co-sponsors for MAASA is the next step to ensure this legislation’s viability for inclusion in any bill this summer. By getting involved you may surprise yourself at the impact you can have! It truly is empowering advocating for your patients and your profession. It is common knowledge that when audiologists are asked why they entered the profession, the most prevalent reply is to help people. Audiologists are the hearing and balance experts; it is time to channel your passion for helping people into the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act! Realize that there are ways to help people in addition to your clinical skills. We as a profession have the opportunity to make a lasting impact in access to healthcare and efficiency in hearing healthcare delivery. MAASA is the crucial next step.

ADA continues to put great resources into getting MAASA over the finish line. For MAASA to be realized, audiologists should increase their individual level of commitment with their time, talent, and/or treasure. If each one of us do our small part, we will start a wave of momentum to ensure the future of Audiology. Now is the time for all audiologists to take ownership of their destiny.