PTs Advocate on Capitol Hill for Access to Rehabilitative Services

ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 21, 2009 — Two hundred physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy marched on Capitol Hill Tuesday to educate lawmakers about the critical need for patients to have improved access to physical therapy services. The group—members of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)—conducted approximately 350 visits with Representatives and Senators.  

During their meetings with congressional representatives, the physical therapy providers emphasized three key issues: the need to remove therapy caps on Medicare part B outpatient rehabilitation services, the benefits of direct access to physical therapy services, and the importance of debt repayment for physical therapy students who choose to practice in underserved areas.

"With the recent release of the Senate Finance Committee's policy options documents and legislation expected to be introduced in the House and Senate in the next several weeks, the timing of these visits is crucial," said APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "To advocate on behalf of physical therapy patients during these decisive days will help raise awareness of the need for health care reform to address the arbitrary limits and burdensome requirements that keep patients from accessing cost-effective physical therapy services in a timely manner and reaching their full potential." 

The visits to the lawmakers were the culmination of APTA's 3-day Federal Advocacy Forum that included a variety of speakers and briefings. Members of Congress and health care industry experts spoke about the challenges of reforming the health care system and the role of the physical therapist in reform. 

Also on Tuesday, the association presented its 2009 APTA Public Service Award to Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) for their commitment to health care issues and the physical therapy profession.             

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility -- in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications. APTA represents more than 72,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice, education, and research. In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com.

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