Audiology Assistant Bill
UPDATE OCTOBER 13, 2021: MSHA has been made aware that an unintended consequence of not being able to implement HB210 may include an impact to Medicaid billing for services provided by Aides. MSHA Is working with affected stakeholders (including OPI and the Licensing Board) to come up with an interim solution until the state can get a third-party testing agency on board. Please be aware that we are aware of the situation and are working on a solution as quickly as we can.
*This page will be updated as soon and as often as possible with more information, with the most recent information on top.
As all Montana SLP/Audiology license-holders were notified by email from the MT Board of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists on September 13, 2021, implementation of HB 210 is delayed for the time being while an Assistants exam is created.
What does this mean for businesses/schools with Speech or Audiology Aides? As of October 1, 2021, Aides are no longer a registered entity in Montana. To be clear, aides have never been licensed, only registered. Everything Aides do is, and will continue to be, under the ethical purview of the licensed professional (AuD, SLP). Schools and clinics can continue to use individuals to help with speech therapy and audiology activities in the same manner they have been, they will just not be registered. In other words, continue as usual.
Stay tuned to this page for further information on the licensing of assistants, and what will be required for those who are already serving in an "aide" capacity who wish to become licensed assistants when licensing becomes available.
For questions, email email@example.com , or contact the licensing board (information in the email below).
Individuals wishing to become an ASHA Certified SLP or Audiology Assistant can find more information at https://www.ashaassistants.org/
Congratulations to Montana's first ASHA Certified Assistant, Brandi Pauley, C-AA from Billings, MT. Brandi has been certified since April.
September 13, 2021
HB 210 (2021) sponsored by the Montana Speech-Language Hearing Association (MSHA) was passed by the Legislature during the 2021 Session. Under this bill there is no longer registration for unlicensed speech-language pathology or audiology aides. To be clear, there will be no aide registration this year or in any subsequent years since the board no longer has authority to require registration of unlicensed aides under this new statute that takes effect on 10/1/21.
The other main piece of HB 210 is the creation of speech-language pathology and audiology assistant licenses. The board is currently working on rules to implement these new license types. The original timeline would have allowed individuals to begin applying for assistant licenses toward the end of the December 2021. However, as was recently discovered and discussed by the board at its meeting the morning of 9/13/21, there is in fact no appropriate assistant licensing exam available for all potential applicants to the requirements of Montana's new statutes under HB 210. Therefore, the board will need to go out for bid in order to find a contractor to write and administer an appropriate licensing exam which likely means the assistant licenses will not be available until Fall 2022.
One final note with regard to billing practices and regulations. Laws pertaining to billing, including private insurance and Medicare and Medicaid are still outside the board's jurisdiction and regulatory authority just as they were prior to the passage of HB 210. As a licensee you are expected to comply with other state and federal laws that pertain to your scope of practice. However, it is not this board that regulates those specific areas so if you have questions regarding billing and unlicensed individuals working under the supervisor of a licensee you could trying contacting the Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services for more information. You could also try contacting your state and/or national professional association(s) to see if they have any recommendations regarding resources.
If you would like to stay current on the board's progress to implement assistant licenses you can request to be added to the board's interested parties list. Those on the interested parties list receive all board meeting agendas and notices of all proposed rulemaking. E-mail questions and/or your request to be added to the list to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check the board's website at https://boards.bsd.dli.mt.gov/speech-language-pathologists/. Recordings of board meetings, including the 9/13/21 meeting, can also be found on the website.
Lucy Richards, Executive Officer, Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists