Public policy is the system of laws, regulations, action plans and funding priorities adopted by federal and local governing bodies. Advocacy is the process undertaken to provide education for policy makers with the goal of shaping policy for the common good. Consistent with APTA’s 2019-2021 Strategic Plan, the Hand Academy recognizes our professional responsibility to educate policy makers to ensure equal access to our services, fair reimbursement for those services and protect our profession.
Work by APTA’s advocacy staff has resulted in the introduction of multiple bills impacting the PT profession. For more information on any of these bills or to contact your legislators and ask for their support check out the APTA Action Center: APTA Action Center
Reps. Bera and Bucshon submitted a letter cosigned by 245 House members urging House Leadership to address through legislation, the proposed Medicare payment cuts set to take effect in 2022. Click here to view the letter. Use the APTA Advocacy center to send an email urging your representatives to stop the fee schedule cuts.
S:3018 Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act was introduced 10/20/21. This legislation would improve timely access to quality care for seniors under Medicare Advantage. Specifically, the bill would modernize the way Medicare Advantage plans and health care providers use prior authorization. This legislation addresses the number one administrative issue for therapists and will make the delivery of health care more patient and provider friendly. The House bill: HR: 3173 was introduced previously.
The Primary Health Services Enhancement Act (HR: 5365) was introduced. This bipartisan legislation would elevate the status of PTs in community health centers by allowing them to bill independently for services billed to Medicare and Medicaid. A news release characterizes the bill as a move to respond to the needs of patients in rural areas who often receive care through community health centers.
H.R. 5536 was introduced October 8. The Stabilizing Medicare Access to Rehabilitation and Therapy (SMART) Act is aimed at protecting beneficiary access to therapy services by mitigating the impact of the impending 15% payment differential for services furnished by physical therapist assistants (PTA) and occupational therapy assistants (OTA) under Medicare Part B beginning on Jan. 1, 2022. The legislation has three primary policy goals:
Stay tuned for grassroots advocacy opportunities to support the bill.
The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act (H.R. 3320/S. 1679) was introduced in both houses on May 18, 2021. If passed, this legislation will provide $8M/yr to accredited PT, OT, audiology, RT, and SLP programs to increase program diversity of students in their educational programs through community outreach, mentorship, scholarships, stipends and other programs. The goal is reach diversity in these professions by increasing the number of students from underrepresented populations including racial, ethnic, disabled and socioeconomic minorities.
The Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (H.R. 3759) reintroduced in the House June 8. The Senate version, S. 2676 was introduced August 9. This legislation would add PT’s to the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. The NHSC loan repayment program repays up to $50,000 in outstanding student loans to certain health care professionals who agree to work for at least two years in a designated health professional shortage areas (HPSA). This legislation could provide greater patient access to rehabilitation services, including for long COVID-19, and nonpharmacological treatment options in rural and underserved areas of the country. Currently, there is no physical rehabilitation care component within NHSC, a piece that would greatly complement the current program to promote health across the continuum of care.
On Tuesday, March 23 the APTA-supported Expanded Telehealth Access Act (H.R. 2168) was introduced the U.S. House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation would make permanent the current temporary policy that allows physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to deliver and bill for services provided via telehealth under Medicare. APTA Take Action Center
The Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act (H.R. 1611) was introduced on 3/8/21. The Senate companion bill (S. 2612) was introduced 8/5/21. This legislation will expand the use of locum tenens by PT’s and patient access to care under Medicare. Physical therapists, small businesses in therapy, and patients continue to struggle as we recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic. Providing physical therapists support and flexibility to ensure that patient care is not interrupted is critical now more than ever. Please contact your representative through the APTA LAC and ask them to cosponsor this important legislation.
The Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act (H.R. 1611) was introduced on 3/8/21. This legislation will expand the use of locum tenens by PT’s and patient access to care under Medicare. Physical therapists, small businesses in therapy, and patients continue to struggle as we recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic. Providing physical therapists support and flexibility to ensure that patient care is not interrupted is critical now more than ever. Please contact your representative through the APTA LAC and ask them to cosponsor this important legislation.
The Medicare Empowerment Act (S. 826) was introduced in the Senate in April. This legislation would expand the list of authorized providers who can privately contract with Medicare beneficiaries (i.e. Opt-Out) to include therapy providers. The companion bill, HR 3322 was introduced on May 19. Ask your legislators to sponsor these bills!
The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (HR 3109/S.844) has been introduced. This legislation allows some funds in pre-tax health savings accounts and/or flexible spending accounts to be used for physical activity expenses including sports leagues, recreation, fitness equipment, exercise and activity classes.
The Physical Activity Recommendations for American Acts (H.R. 2094) was introduced to ensure that the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are revised regularly to provide the most up-to-date information. A senate companion is expected to be introduced in the near future.
On July 23, APTA joined 108 other specialty provider groups in a joint letter to Congress requesting intervention to delay the conversion factor cut.
On Aug. 3, APTA joined AOTA, NARA and NASL in a letter to Capitol Hill addressing the PTA, OTA pay differential. Click here for the full text of the letter.
APTA provides a consistent lobbying presence with members of Congress, regulatory agencies, and commercial payers. Adding your voice strengthens our efforts. Learn about the advocacy issues that are affecting our profession and society, and then take action using one of the options below. Showing your support takes only minutes and can make a lasting impact. Click here for more information.
APTA has released Public Policy Priorities and recommended solutions for 2021-2022. This document will be distributed to Congress and other stakeholders in the near future. You can download this document APTA Public Policy Priorities 2021-2022.
APTA has outlined 3 requests for PTA’s:
The APTA Advocacy Network (formerly PTeam) keeps APTA member advocates connected and engaged. Members participate for free and receive special legislative updates and action alerts when we need your voice. https://www.apta.org/advocacy/apta-advocacy-network