The 2019 APTA Federal Affairs Forum was held March 31-April 2, 2019. The meeting targeted legislation supporting APTA’s public policy priorities, identified by Advocacy at APTA and supported by the House of Delegates.
More Movement, Better Health
Legislators, consumers, and payers acknowledge the cost of health care is rising while the outcomes are not improving. Payment continues to target treatment in lieu of prevention. Physical therapists are positioned to be primary contributors to the advancement of wellness and prevention of the chronic conditions caused by harmful lifestyle choices. To that end, APTA has set the following public policy goals:
Population Health Priorities
Patient Choice and Access
Research and Innovation
Legislation: 116th Congress, first session
As this is a new Congress, previous legislation expired and requires reintroduction. APTA representatives advocated for:
In addition, APTA representatives served as educators to the legislators and their aides regarding delays in care due to prior authorization requirements. Over 80% of Medicaid, Medicaid fee-for-service programs, Medicare Advantage, and Commercial payers require prior authorization for physical therapy services. In addition, 72% of nearly 16,000 respondents to a web-based survey reported an average delay of 3 days prior to accessing services due to pending authorization requests. The high cost of co-payments was also identified as a barrier to care.
One bill was introduced during our time on the Hill: S 970 Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act of 2019 Introduced by Senator Jon Tester 4/1/19, includes physical therapists in the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment program. This program provides student loan forgiveness for physical therapists who serve in areas identified as rural and underserved after graduation.
I was one of 4 delegates from Iowa, one of whom was a physical therapy student from the University of Iowa program. We had a face-to-face meeting with Senator Chuck Grassley, Chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and with Representative Dave Loebsack and met with the health care legislative aids for Representative Steve King,
Cindy Axne and Senator Joanie Earnst. Our comments were well received but without commitments to introduce or support legislation addressing these issues.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent the Academy and urge continued participation in the annual Federal Advocacy Forum by representatives of the Academy.
Marsha Lawrence PT DPT CHT
Federal Affairs Liaison
Academy of Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation
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Washington, DC (preconference course January 22)