Fall 2011
The Newsletter of the Michigan Speech-Language-Hearing Association

2011-2012 MSHA Executive Board and Advisory Assembly

MSHA Executive Board:

Richard Merson
Deanna Klein
Elaine Ledwon-Robinson
Maureen Staskowski
Sherry Riedel
VP For Advocacy:
Julie Pratt
VP for Membership:
Gordon Krainen
VP for Professional Development and Education:
Jan McCosky
VP-Elect for Professional Development and Education:
Terry Lange-Winkel
VP for Audiology Services:
Margot Beckerman
VP for Public Relations:
Melissa Witsil
VP for SLP/Healthcare:
Bev Jaynes
VP for SLP/Public Schools:
Ellen Gehl and
Lindsey Halpin


MSHA Advisory Assembly

Angelique Boerst
Communications and Networking:
Patty Repka
Continuing Education:
Rosalyn Davis
Ethics and Standards:
Robin Pollens
Student Affairs:
Erica Osborn
Theresa Sutton - Southeast
Jonathan Moyle - Southwest
Jill Matthews - Northwest
Suzanne Coughlin-Woods - Northeast
Kristen Miller - Upper Peninsula
Member-at-Large Representing Students:
Sarah Pray

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Volume 34 Number Four October 2011

This is the newsletter of the:

Michigan Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Dawn Kutney, Editor
790 W. Lake Lansing Rd. 
Suite 500-A
East Lansing, Michigan  48823
email address: msha@att.net
Website: www.michiganspeechhearing.org


Licensing Applications Available Soon

Stephanie Johnson, Capitol Services, Inc.

The Department of Licensing And Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is still in the process of finalizing the rules for Speech Pathology licensing but in the meantime LARA is expecting to have the applications for licensing available to anyone interested in applying on its website any day after October 1st.

The Department will not be able to issue a license to an applicant until the rules process is final but in the meantime applicants can submit their application to the Department. A link to the LARA website to download the application when available is: http://www.michigan.gov/lara

The rules are being reviewed by LARA legal staff; once that process is complete they will be sent to the Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR) for one final review and at that time they will be submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). JCAR has 15 session days to object to the rules. If they do not act, the rules will automatically take effect. MSHA is hopeful that the rules will be submitted to JCAR by the end of October.

Legislation Changing Auto No Fault
Legislation has been introduced to change the basic nature of the Michigan auto no-fault system. SBs 293 and 294, sponsored by Sen. Joe Hune (R-Hamburg) have been referred to the Senate Committee on Insurance. The following is a summary of a few of changes proposed in the bills:

• Insurance companies would be authorized to sell auto policies with maximum no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) benefits as low as $50,000. Higher limits would be available for higher premiums. Victims suffering catastrophic injury resulting in medical expenses higher than the selected limits would be forced to turn to Medicaid, Medicare, or health insurance.
• Persons who are hit by a car but do not own an automobile, and thus have no insurance coverage or who do not live with relatives who have no-fault insurance coverage, would be limited to $50,000 of no-fault PIP benefits.
• Most no-fault PIP claims paid through the Assigned Claims Facility would be limited to $50,000 of coverage.
• Medical providers serving severely injured patients who selected inadequate PIP benefit limits would no longer be reimbursed for services.
• Benefits payable for attendant care of nursing services rendered to an injured person in his or her home will be subject to two caps: 1) a weekly hours cap, 2) an hourly rate cap.
• Workers compensation fee schedules will be applicable to every physician, hospital, clinic, institution, or other person rendering treatment to auto accident victims.

Medical and consumer organizations have formed the Coalition to Protect Auto No Fault (CPAN) to oppose these changes. Groups that make up the coalition include the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, Michigan Health and Hospital Association and the Disability Network of Michigan to name a few.

This will be a hot issue during the fall legislative schedule.

Governor Releases Health Message

Governor Rick Snyder released his Special Message to the Legislature on Health and Wellness. The message included proposals to address infant mortality, teen pregnancy, obesity and food safety to name a few. One notable proposal in the Governor’s message was a proposal to mandate insurance coverage for autism treatments.

Autism parity legislation has been introduced in the past and received opposition from the business community due to increased costs associated with providing this coverage. In addition, advocates in the mental health community have been concerned with mandating insurance coverage for autism but not for other illnesses that could benefit from similar coverage.

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Better Know a MSHA Board Member: Elaine Ledwon-Robinson, MSHA Past-President

Dawn Kutney, Editor, et cetera

To continue our feature that highlights 2 of our current MSHA Executive Board and Advisory Assembly members, in this issue it seems appropriate to feature two of our Executive Board  members who also happen to be recipients for ASHA's Fellow Award which will presented at the ASHA Convention in San Diego next month!  Elaine Ledwon-Robinson, M.S., CCC-SLP, Board Ceritified ANCDS, current MSHA Past President (President in 2010) and Maureen Staskowski, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, current MSHA Secretary  (President in 2009) will receive the ASHA Fellow Award on Friday, November 18th.  Congratulations to Elaine and Maureen for this national recognition.  Those of us in MSHA know how special you both are, and we are lucky to have had you both serve as Presidents very recently.  Continued success to you both, and many thanks for your important contributions to MSHA!

Name: Elaine Ledwon-Robinson, M.S., CCC-SLP, Board Certified ANCDS
MSHA Position:  Past President 

Question: What do you do professionally?
I am very fortunate to have spent my career at the University of Michigan Health System: I was hired at age 23 to be one of 2 SLPs in the medical center. Since then, I have had the privilege of developing and directing the Speech-Language Pathology Department and the Pediatric NeuroRehabilitation Program, an interdisciplinary rehabilitation program for children and teens who have experienced brain or spinal cord injury or disease. I work with amazing SLPs and Audiologists as well as other healthcare professionals and have never had a boring minute here!

Question: Why have you taken on a MSHA position and what do you find enjoyable/interesting about your MSHA role?
Each time I have taken on a volunteer position, it has been a leap of faith: will I have enough time to do a good job, and do I have the skills to accomplish what needs to be done? It’s an intense and exhilarating journey, and I always find that when I have completed it, I have increased, significantly, my skills and abilities. I believe that state associations are critical in these challenging times: there is power in numbers and when SLPs and Audiologists work with their state association, they will be more effective in advocating for their students and patients.

I learned a tremendous amount in my tenure as MSHA President and have renewed appreciation for those who volunteer their time and talents to MSHA.

Question: What is your favorite spare time hobby or interest?
Playing piano (especially Chopin), gardening and traveling (like Woody Allen, I’ve fallen in love with France, especially the pastries!).

Question: What is the most interesting recent continuing education activity you’ve participated in?
I enjoyed co-teaching the Leadership course at this year’s MSHA convention with Dr. Alex Johnson: his presentations are always thoughtful and stimulating and he has a very sophisticated understanding of clinical and political trends in SLP and Audiology. I also enjoyed a recent Academy of Neurological Communication Disorders and Sciences’ meeting: Sandra Bond Chapman presented on cognitive stall in pediatric traumatic brain injury, which was fascinating.

Question:  Any advice for a graduating student entering our professions?
In addition to taking advantage of MSHA and ASHA’s continuing education opportunities (including the on-line Perspectives), I would recommend getting outside of one’s comfort zone and taking on a role in one’s state or national association: the skills learned will be very meaningful, both personally and professionally. I would also encourage graduate students to always think diagnostically: what are the underlying reasons for the symptoms/behaviors you observe?

Question:  What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
My colleagues and I are very assertive about the importance of SLP assessment and treatment and I’m very proud of the programs we have established at our health system as well as the work I’ve done to improve communication and swallowing benefits with our local insurers. As one of the founders of the Michigan Brain Injury Association, I am committed to working to improve insurance coverage of individuals with cognitive-communicative impairment: improving benefits for individuals with communication and swallowing disorders is a never-ending quest that requires constant vigilance!

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Better Know a MSHA Board Member: Maureen Staskowski, MSHA Secretary

Dawn Kutney, Editor, et cetera

Name: Maureen Staskowski, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
MSHA Position: Secretary

Question:  What do you do professionally?
I am a consultant to school districts for speech, Language and Literacy.

Question:  Why have you taken on a MSHA position and what do you find enjoyable/interesting about your MSHA role?
Without volunteers MSHA could not be such a valuable resource to SLPs across our state. I have made some great friends through MSHA. I have loved meeting so many excellent and passionate people.

Question: What is your favorite spare-time hobby or interest?
I love to read, play with my daughter, golf in the summer and ski in the winter.

Question: What is the most interesting recent continuing education activity you've participated in?
I heard Wendy Robinson from Iowa present. In Iowa, Wendy and a group of school SLPs developed oral language screening and progress monitoring tools and collected normative data. The SLPs in Iowa were able to show their value more clearly through this project.

Question: Any advice for a graduating student entering our professions?
You made a fabulous choice! Speech-Language Pathology is a great profession. Never stop your education – there are always news things to learn to help your students/clients/patients.

Question:  What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
When speech pathologists tell me that my consultation made a difference.

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MAC on M.A.C. October 27-29, 2011 in East Lansing

Margot Beckerman, Au.D., CCC-A, VP for Audiology Services

Hope to see you at the 6th Annual Conference of the Michigan Audiology Coalition, October 27-29, 2011 at the East Lansing Marriott Hotel on 300 M.A.C. Avenue, East Lansing, Michigan.  Join us as we welcome Keynote Speaker Amy McConkey Robbins for Vocational Renewal - Fire and Breathing Spaces as well as other featured presentation topics such as: Cochlear and Middle Ear Implants; Coding, Reimbursement and Practice Management; Hair Cell Regeneration; Hearing  Loss Prevention; Real Ear and ALDs...and more.   The conference is co-sponsored by Michigan Academy of Audiology and MSHA.  Register online now at www.michiganaudiologycoalition.org

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News & Notes

Dawn Kutney, MSHA

Congratulations to ASHA ACE Winners

Congratulations to the following MSHA members who received the ASHA Award for Continuing Education (ACE) during the period of January to March 2011:

Maureen Alterman, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech, Language & Reading Services, Howell, Michigan

Celeste Gerlach, M.A., CCC-SLP, Haslett Public Schools

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Save the Dates:

MSHA Future Conferences

The Program Committee is busy planning for future MSHA Conferences. Great conference rates are available now for the future, and we also know that booking the dates and sites in advance helps MSHA members to plan for years ahead.  Mark your calendars for these future dates/sites for MSHA:

2012:  March 22-24, 2012    Kalamazoo Radisson Hotel

2013:  March 21-23, 2013    The Henry Hotel, Dearborn

2014:  March 27-29, 2014    Kalamazoo Radisson Hotel

2015:  Open - Detroit Metro area

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MSHF Gives Scholarships

Fran Eldis, Ph.D., CCC-SLP/A

The MSHF Board is pleased to report that the Foundation was once again able to provide $500 for scholarships each to Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University, Wayne State University,  and Western Michigan University programs in communication disorders and sciences for the 2011-2012 academic year.

The Board continues to seek means of raising more funds for scholarships even in this poor economic climate. However, we need the support of our profession – you – the working Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. Those of you who are relatively recent graduates know how expensive your graduate education was and costs have increased regularly.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation to MSHF.

Plans are under way for MSHF’s Annual Silent Auction.  This popular event - see photo above - is alot of fun and some great deals have been bought such as condo time-shares, golf bags, and artwork.  Think about things you might donate for this event. Restaurant gift certificates are always welcome as are books, specialty baskets, university spirit gifts, crafts, art work, etc.  Many thanks to those who continue to donate wonderful gifts.  Remember, your donations are tax deductible!

We look forward to seeing everyone at the MSHA Annual Conference in Kalamazoo in March!

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From the President

Richard Merson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Reshaping the Professional Landscape

There are events that are changing the professional landscape and the way forward in our Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology professions. Michigan Licensure for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists is a reality. The SLP licensure applications will be sought beginning in October from the Michigan Bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The process will take months and within two years (end of 2013) all professional individuals treating patients in the State of Michigan must be licensed. This is good for the consumers of our professional services, as greater protection from untrained and inappropriate services will be secured. This is healthy for our SLP and AUD professionals as they can practice in all health environs with the respect and dignity afforded all licensed professionals. In order to stay tuned on Licensure (open-applications) go to http://www.michigan.gov , and search for Licensing and Regulatory Affairs [LARA] and scroll down to Speech-Language Pathology. We’ll keep you posted!

 As a by-product of our Michigan licensure law, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan is immediately initiating receipt of applications for Independent-Speech-Language Pathology status that will allow independent practitioners through a BCBSM PIN number to bill directly to BCBSM for their services!


We are very proud to celebrate three wonderful professional recognitions this year. Elaine Ledwon-Robinson, M.S., CCC-SLP, Board Certified ANCDS, our MSHA Past-President (2010), and Maureen Staskowski, Ph.D., CCC-SLP also a MSHA Past-President (2009) and current Secretary on the MSHA Board,  will be recognized by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) at the Annual Conference in San Diego, California this November and elevated to the status of ASHA-Fellow. We are very proud of their professional achievement and recognition. MSHA is especially grateful that they both continue to serve as active leaders in our State Association.

Dr. Nickola Wolf Nelson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP,  Western Michigan University will receive ASHA's highest professional recognition: Honors of the Association at the ASHA Convention in San Diego as well. Dr. Nickola Nelson is the Charles Van Riper Professor in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology and Director of the Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at Western Michigan University. She has published widely on language and literacy, is an ASHA Fellow, Editor of Topics in Language Disorders, and is a 2007 recipient of the Kleffner Clinical Career award.

Elaine Ledwon-Robinson, M.S., CCC-SLP, Board Certified ANCDS, is the Director of Speech-Language Pathology and the Pediatric NeuroRehabilitation Program, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is a past recipient of MSHA Honors of the Association and continues to serve on the MSHA Executive Board as Past-President.

Maureen Staskowski, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is a Speech, Language and Literacy Consultant at the Macomb Intermediate School District in Michigan.   She is the editor of the Michigan Speech-Language Guidelines: Suggestions for Eligibility, Service Delivery, and Exit Criteria Revised.   She also continues to serve on the MSHA Board as Secretary, and served as MSHA President in 2009.

SLPs To Bill Directly to BCBSM

MSHA meets annually with Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, Executive Medical Director and his provider analyst staff of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) to discuss reimbursement issues on behalf of all our members. We met on September 21st at the Renaissance Center in Detroit . We had an outstanding discussion. BCBSM will begin implementing through applications, in October, the new Independent-Speech-Language Pathology status that will allow SLPs practicing in Michigan to bill directly to BCBSM (see below).

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will allow Independent-Speech-Language Pathologists [ISLP] the opportunity to apply to its Traditional and TRUST PPO networks. ISLPs may obtain application materials on www.bcbsm.com starting October 1, 2011. To ensure special attention of applications, from 10/1/11-12/31/11, please mail applications to:

BCBSM – M/C C334
600 E. Lafayette Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226

Dr. Johnson reported that there are no negative Audit concerns for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. He encouraged all SLP/AUD providers to become familiar with the online Blue Care Network to stay informed about new policies and rules. Register to receive the Blues Provider newsletter at http://www.bcbsm.com/provider/

Tri-Alliance with MPTA and MiOTA

MSHA initiated this year a biannual meeting with our professional colleagues in the Michigan Physical Therapy Association (MPTA) and the Michigan Occupational Therapy Association (MiOTA). Our first meeting was held on August 24th, 2011. This new relationship - the Tri-Alliance -  will allow us to jointly cope with new initiatives in professional status, reimbursement,  ethics, licensing, and program development. It triples our knowledge-power in managing our relationships with insurers, other third-party reimbursement sources and the Legislature. Thanks to Deanna Klein, MSHA President-Elect, and Bev Jaynes, MSHA VP for SLP/Healthcare, for joining with me to represent MSHA with the Tri-Alliance.

 MSHA Website- Revamped!

 We are also very proud of the new look of our Website: www.michiganspeechhearing.org

Same address, new management company.  Thanks to Chris Vieth & Associates for completely revamping the look of, and managing our website. Our new website will give us greater ability to communicate directly to our members, consumers and other professionals. We hope to investigate the possibility of streaming video of our conferences. The new website will also enhance our management of membership renewals and directory. We are also designing a new membership card so each member can have immediate access to our website, the central office and our executive board .

Come see us on the Web !!!!!!

MSHA Conference 2012

Our conference in Kalamazoo has taken shape and we are very pleased with the professionals who have agreed to present in 2012. The theme of our 2012 conference is The Way Forward..Tried & True and Something New. There are certain fundamental “truths’ about our profession that we should always revere. Our scientific and scholarly foundations should always be upheld. Our clinical services must be maintained at the highest standards of ethics and human dignity. We must always be willing to examine new ideas and innovation in academia, research, in our schools,  and in clinical practice but never lose sight of our foundations.  Thanks to our Program Committee for putting together this wonderful conference.  Look to the following article for a complete list of our confirmed speakers.  It is still a work in progress, and we urge you to submit a Call for Papers for MSHA and share your professional expertise and experience.  Here's the link for the MSHA Call for Papers 

The fiscal status of the Association is strong thanks to our last two Presidents: Maureen Staskowski and Elaine Ledwon-Robinson; our able Treasurer, Sherry Riedel;  an active no-nonsense Executive Board;  and Dawn Kutney MSHA Administrative Consultant, and Kim Wesoloski, MSHA Office Manager. We are planning an exciting future with strong fiscal resources. Your renewal of your membership dues and your participation in our Annual Conferences are critical in establishing this fiscal stability. Thank you for your support of MSHA.

75 Years to Celebrate

MSHA will soon celebrate (1939-2014) seventy-five years of service to Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology professionals and the clients they serve. Everyone should share in this accomplishment as a profession. We want to solicit your ideas on how we can celebrate our Diamond Jubilee - 75 Years.   Look for the MSHA Booth at the Conference where you can submit your suggestions - or just send directly to the MSHA office at any time.

Thanks and see you at MSHA in Kalamazoo...and on Facebook!

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MSHA Annual Conference March 22-24, 2012: Meet You in Kalamazoo!

Terry Lange-Winkel, M.A, CCC-SLP and Jan McCosky, M.A.

MSHA Annual Conference
The Way Forward…Tried and True and Something New
Highlights for the MSHA Annual Conference,

March 22-24, 2012
Radisson Plaza Hotel, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Thursday, March 22, 2012

▲ Cochlear Implant Workshop, by the University of Michigan Cochlear Implant Team, beginning at 8:00 am, addressing technological advances which affect the functionality, outcomes, and issues associated with cochlear implants in both the adult and pediatric populations, and other topics from music appreciation therapy to smartphone apps for therapeutic use. More info to follow!

▲ An afternoon Short Course, 1:00 - 4:15 pm, on the topic of Counseling & Ethics, Managing Caseloads, and Difficult Conservations, speakers and title not yet confirmed but details will be forthcoming!

▲ Angela Hein Ciccia, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, will present a Short Course,
6-9:15 pm entitled Best Practices for Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation for Adolescents and Adults with Acquired Traumatic Brain Injury.

▲ Carol Flexer, Ph.D., CCC-A, LSLS, Certified AVT, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Audiology, The University of Akron, will present a Short Course, 6-9:15 pm entitled: Auditory Brain Development: They Key to Listening, Language and Literacy. (Note: both Short Courses by Dr. Flexer have been approved by the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language for LSLS certification, AVT and AVEd Certification).

▲ Welcome Reception, 8:30 - 10:30 p.m.Hot hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Everyone welcome!

Friday, March 23, 2012

▲ Carol Flexer, Ph.D., CCC-A, LSLS, Certified AVT, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Audiology, The University of Akron, will present an afternoon Short Course: Theory of Mind Development in Children with Hearing Loss: Strategies for Social-Emotional Growth (Note: both Short Courses by Dr. Flexer have been approved by the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language for LSLS certification, AVT and AVEd Certification).

▲ Michelle S. Bourgeois, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Ohio State University, will present a morning Short Course: Beyond Memory Books: Effective Interventions for Persons with Dementia.

▲ Carol Flexer, Ph.D., CCC-A, LSLS, Certified AVT, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Audiology, The University of Akron will be the Keynote Speaker at the MSHA Awards Luncheon. Her presentation is entitled: Tweeters and Texters: How Can Boomers Possibly Understand These New Millenials. Presentation of MSHA Honors and Awards will be presented at this luncheon.

▲ Whitney Townsend, MLIS, University of Michigan Health Sciences Library, will present an afternoon Double Miniseminar: Efficient, Effective, and Informed: Online Resources for Speech, Language, and Hearing Professionals.

▲ All-Day MSHF Silent Auction; Exhibitors’ Cocktail Party and Raffle, and MSHA 50/50 Raffle Friday 5-7 pm.

▲ Additional Short Courses, 1 and 2 hour sessions, and Poster Sessions on a variety of topics are currently being planned and we encourage submissions via the MSHA Call for Papers currently on the MSHA Website at www.michiganspeechhearing.org

Saturday, March 24, 2012

▲ James L. Coyle Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BRS-S, Board Recognized Specialist, Swallowing Disorders, University of Pittsburgh, will present a morning Short Course: Treatment of Dysphagia: Current Controversies, Evidence and Hype.

▲ Teresa Ukrainetz, Ph.D., Director and Professor of the Division of Communication Disorders at the University of Wyoming, will present two Short Courses: Morning class: Narrative Intervention: Episodic Structure, Cohesion and the Art of Story Telling; and the afternoon class: Expository Intervention: Teaching How to Talk. Her research and scholarship deals with assessment validity, treatment efficacy, phonemic awareness, narrative, expository, and school SLP practices.

▲ Ellayne S. Ganzfried, M.S., CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow, Executive Director National Aphasia Association, New York, New York will present an afternoon Short Course: Aphasia Advocacy: Tools for Community Outreach, Education and Increased Awareness.

▲ Public School Forum Luncheon

▲ Medical SLP Forum Luncheon

▲ Additional Short Courses, 1 and 2 hour sessions, and Poster Sessions on a variety of topics are currently being planned and we encourage submissions via the MSHA Call for Papers currently on the MSHA Website at www.michiganspeechhearing.org

Note: This program is a Work In Progress! Additions will occur before the March 22-24, 2012 Annual Conference.

The Preliminary Program will be mailed in January and available online, along with
MSHA Conference Registration Form, Hotel Registration Form, Volunteer Form,
and all information for Exhibitors and Advertisers.
Great opportunity for CEUs.

Contact MSHA for more info at 517/332-5691 or visit our website at: www.michiganspeechhearing.org

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It's Time for our Michigan Government to Do No Harm

Bev Jaynes, M.A., CCC-SLP, MSHA VP for SLP Healthcare

Perhaps this is the proverbial preaching to the choir...

If you have been even marginally awake to the workings of our current Michigan Legislative bodies, you know that our Auto No Fault Insurance Laws are being targeted for major revision. There are a series of bills in both the House and the Senate that reflect the Auto Insurance Industry’s interests: Senate Bills 293 through 296 are worth your time to review. (Try the Michigan Votes Site for a quick synopsis.)  Also, you can refer to Stephanie Johnson's column in this newsletter.

The most dramatic changes proposed involve Personal Injury Protection (PIP) provisions and how fees for services will be structured. As written in SB 293 the individual purchasing insurance can choose as little as $50,000 for “coverage of all allowable expenses consisting of all reasonable charges incurred”, which is said to include “products, services, and accommodations for an injured person’s care, recovery or rehabilitation.” (That sounds like 2 days in the ICU to me if someone is unlucky enough to not have health insurance).  Unlimited lifetime benefits will no longer be available. (Hmm: tell that to the parent of a quadriplegic child  - or someone like one of my clients who as long as it helps conserve some of her vision will undergo eye injections that must be administered in an outpatient surgical site every 4-6 weeks to protect her optic nerve).  

As I was editing this article, I learned that on Sept 13th, HB 4936 was introduced and proposes similar PIP changes. To further limit the Insurance Industry’s liability, the other bills propose limiting the hourly wages of attendant care providers and setting the fee schedule for services at that of the workman compensation rates for medical providers.

I also discovered House Bill 4455. It proposes to take the control of the Assigned Claims Plan which is currently under the Michigan Secretary of State and move that control to the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility Board. This plan was established in 1973 to provide financial help to individuals injured in an uninsured motor vehicle accident who have no insurance of their own.  FYI: drivers of stolen vehicles and the uninsured driver themselves were never eligible for this benefit.  (It seems to me that could be a few children in this passenger mix).  What is the significance of this move? The Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility Board is made up of all the states' auto insurers: they are represented proportionally on this board,  i.e., the largest insurer has the most board members. I wonder what they will do to minimize their payment liability here.

Under the guise of making insurance “affordable” the laws and plans this industry supported in 1973 to decrease litigation are being gutted.  A Sept 2011 Article in USA Today, One in Seven Drivers Have No Insurance, which you can find online, had some interesting facts. (The Insurance Research Council has been tracking this for some time).  Our average insurance premiums did not make the top 10, but Michigan took the #7 spot for uninsured motorists. As there is a strong correlation between unemployment and lack of insurance and there is a PLPD basic policy offered at this time, I am not at all convinced the changes will make insurance more affordable or pervasive. Surrounding states had similar uninsured motorist’s percentages and they do not have our level of coverage. This article also noted laws requiring insurance continue to be ineffective and insured drivers will continue to pay for the uninsured injured.

Despite this, I believe the Michigan Auto Insurance Industry continues to be profitable. And that is the rub: they are not a profitable as they would like to be if you adhere to the information that Robert P. Hartwig provided at a January gathering of the Michigan Insurance Coalition.  It is Mr. Hartwig’s opinion that 8-9% profitability should be their goal. (An outline of his talk is available online).  Wouldn’t you like someone else to guarantee a structure of that amount of yearly return on your savings and retirement accounts at this tenuous time?
Of course in all this wordage of bill after bill there is no statement that insurance premiums will go down. I expect mine to go up as I would chose to protect my family as much as possible. Oh by the way, in one of the bills I noted that if you are over 60, wage loss benefits will not be a benefit. I intent to explore this further, as I do not know if this is also current law. Given we are all being told to work as long as we can, what the heck is this?

Please take the time to contact your legislator and voice your displeasure with these bills.

P.S. I also recommend you take a look at an article in Crain’s Detroit Business dated Sept. 13, 2011: Study: Michigan Medicaid cost could rise by $30 million in the first year if no-fault bill is approved. 

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Why MSHA? Why Ask Why?

Gordon Krainen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, VP For Membership

I am at times asked the question “Why should I join MSHA?” For some reason this question throws me for a loop. My first thought is “Why wouldn’t you join MSHA?” There is no other organization that will address your needs as a communication disorders professional better in this state. Really there are numerous reasons to join, and those who do become involved with MSHA realize it. MSHA is important for us politically. Let’s face it, in tough economic times, programs want to cut whatever costs they can. We are a cost to a program and are not immune to budget cuts. MSHA employs a lobbyist to monitor what is happening in the Michigan Legislature to help us promote our mission. By belonging to MSHA we have more strength in numbers to influence our legislators.

Another reason to belong to MSHA is for the great educational opportunities it provides. I have never been disappointed by the quality of the speakers we get at our conference. There are a large variety of topics and many of the speakers are nationally known. I find the intimacy of the conference a better place to learn than at ASHA (which costs a lot more).

Speaking of costs, MSHA has not raised its cost to join in the past eighteen years. If a member rejoins before November 1st, there is even a $5 reduction in the fee. It truly is a bargain.  Your dues renewal cards are in the mail and you will receive them soon.  Contact the MSHA office if you've moved recently and need to update your address.

Another strong reason to belong is for networking. MSHA membership can be a great boon to finding the right job. Belonging to MSHA tells a prospective employer you are committed to your profession. By belonging to MSHA you will know more professionals in the field and learn about new employment opportunities. Not only that, but there are some really interesting and dedicated professionals all across this state.  There are many exceptional and accomplished individuals that belong to MSHA that you should get to know - and vice versa!

So whether you are a new student, a recent grad or a seasoned professional, MSHA has something to offer. I can’t think of one reason why a speech-language pathologist or audiologist would pass on MSHA. Still, there are some in this state that do not belong. If you belong and are happy with MSHA, why not ask your friends and colleagues to join. You would be doing them a favor. 

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et cetera - Fall 2011

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