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
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.