West Virginia is pioneering flexible practice, becoming the first of three states to pass legislation approving the Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC). This legislation would allow audiologists and speech-language pathologists to legally and ethically practice across state boundaries and through telepractice with a single license.
In addition, Utah and Wyoming just passed similar measures.
How did West Virginia achieve this milestone? Basically, we networked with legislators and with professionals from other professions who had succeeded in passing their respective interstate compacts in West Virginia and other states.
Full disclosure: As a member of the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists and ASHA’s Advisory Council, I have experienced little success in advocacy efforts. However, after encouragement from the Council of State Governments (CSG), the National Council of State Boards, and ASHA, I felt empowered to take on the ASLP-IC bill in West Virginia.
I first met with Sen. Eric Tarr, who had sponsored the physical therapy compact that passed without opposition in 2017. We expedited the process by enlisting Del. Amy Summers, a nurse. She sponsored the bill in the House while he co-sponsored the bill in the Senate.
The days that followed were filled with phone calls, texts, emails, and face-to-face meetings with legislators and attorneys. I frequently received notifications of committee hearings with less than 24 hours’ notice. I tried to be available for the meetings in Charleston, the capital, and run my business in Daniels—70 miles away—at the same time.
The only opposition to ASLP-IC in West Virginia came from the medical board and the otolaryngologist board. ASHA was able to provide me with letters of support in response. I also asked physicians and otolaryngologists with whom my practice works to write letters and make calls in support of the bill.
We had a united front in favor of the bill from special education directors, ASHA, the West Virginia Speech-Language-Hearing Association (WVSHA), West Virginia University, Marshall University, and the Department of Defense’s state liaison.
Setbacks and favors
At one point in the process, unresolved concerns from some stakeholders stalled the bill in the Interstate Cooperation Committee, moving to a “study resolution”—meaning that it was dead. At that point, the only thing I had left was relational capital: I called a special education director with whom I work and asked her to call the president of the Senate, her close friend, to leverage some support. I called Sen. Tarr and Del. Amy Summers to use their influence to get the bill out of “study resolution.” Within 24 hours, we had a stakeholders’ meeting scheduled.
Representatives from CSG, ASHA, WVSHA, and Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission were all at the stakeholders’ meeting. We worked out compromise wording and made another semantic change at the final meeting of the Interstate Cooperation Committee. Seven days later the bill passed unanimously.
Ten states must pass a compact bill for the ASLP-IC to become operative. ASHA is working with the CSG and allied stakeholders to introduce ASLP-IC bills in states across the U.S. To date, 11 states have introduced 17 bills for implementing the ASLP-IC, with more expected to pass during this legislative season.
Vickie Pullins, MA, CCC-SLP, is CEO and co-owner of LinguaCare Associates in Daniels, West Virginia. She is secretary of the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists; on the Board of Directors for the National Council of State Boards of Examiners; and a vice president of the West Virginia Speech-Language-Hearing Association; and an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues. email@example.com