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Practice Affairs → Public Policy

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.

Advocacy Opportunities

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

State Advocacy Resources

APTA and the Private Practice Section have developed payment advocacy tools to help providers address the growing administrative burden due to utilization management practices, the use of AI algorithms for treatment eligibility decisions, denials for long Covid therapy intervention and other barriers to care access. Details are available here: State Payment Advocacy Tools

DEI

The National Institutes for Health Chief Office of Scientific Workforce Diversity will host a virtual seminar series May 17, 2022 to explore evidence on the impact of diversity on science. For more information: NIH Diversity and Science Seminars

APTA Led Legislation

Update: The SMART ACT: Addressing The PTA/OTA Differential

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 that began on Jan. 1, 2022. The legislation has three primary policy goals:

  1. Roll back the implementation of the PTA/OTA payment differential until Jan. 1, 2023.
  2. Provide an exemption to the 15% payment differential for rural and underserved areas.
  3. Allow for general supervision of PTAs and OTAs under Part B (instead of the current direct supervision requirement).

Please take the opportunity to tell your legislators to act on the SMART ACT by going to the APTA Action Center where you can send a letter or tweet asking for their support. Time is running out so please act by March 11.


The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act (H.R. 3320/S. 1679)

This legislation 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.


Expanded Telehealth Access Act (H.R. 2168/S. 3193)

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/S.2612)

This legislation expands the use of locum tenens by PT’s by providing physical therapists support and flexibility to ensure that patient care is not interrupted. Please contact your representative through the APTA LAC and ask them to cosponsor this important legislation.


The Primary Health Services Enhancement Act (HR: 5365)

This bipartisan legislation adds PTs as primary health service providers in Communitv Health Centers and would allow them to bill independently for services billed to Medicare and Medicaid.

APTA Supported Legislation

Treat Long COVID Act Introduced

The Targeting Resources for Equitable Access to Treatment for Long COVID Act HR 7482, S4015 was introduced in both Houses. The legislation aims to expand treatment for Long COVID nationwide, grant funding for the creation and expansion of multidisciplinary Long COVID clinics to address the physical and mental health needs of patients; prioritize funding for health providers that plan to engage medically underserved populations and populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19; and ensure that treatment is not denied based on insurance coverage, date or method of diagnosis, or previous hospitalization.

Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act (H.R. 3173/S. 3018)

This legislation would improve timely access to quality care for seniors under Medicare Advantage, updating Medicare Advantage and health care providers’ use of prior authorization. This legislation addresses the number one administrative issue for therapists.


Medicare Empowerment Act (H.R. 3322/S. 826)

This legislation would expand the list of authorized providers who can privately contract with Medicare beneficiaries (i.e. Opt-Out) to include therapy providers.


Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (HR 3109/S.844)

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.


Physical Activity Recommendations for American Acts (H.R. 2094/S. 1301)

This legislation was introduced to ensure that the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are revised regularly to provide the most up-to-date information.


APTA Advocacy for PTA’s

APTA has outlined 3 requests for PTA’s:

  1. Delay implementation of the differential until 2023
  2. Allow General supervision in place of the current direct supervision for PTA’s under Medicare Part B.
  3. Exempt rural areas and underserved areas from the PTA differential.

How You Can Help!


Join the APTA Advocacy Network

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