ALEXANDRIA, VA, June 17, 2009 —
Legislation to establish a Frontline Providers Loan Repayment Program
that includes physical therapists was introduced Tuesday by
Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA).
The Access to Frontline Health Care Act of
2009 (HR 2891) would encourage physical therapists to practice in
underserved areas, says the American Physical Therapy Association
HR 2891, which would amend the Public Health
Service Act, creates a process that is similar to the National Health
Services Corp (NHSC) in which a provider signs a commitment to practice
in an area for at least 2 years in exchange for student loan repayment.
Currently, physical therapists are not included in the NHSC's Loan
Repayment Program. This legislation would complement the Physical Therapist Student Loan Repayment Eligibility
Act of 2009, which would allow physical therapists to participate in the NHSC's
Under HR 2891, providers pledge to practice in
a "Frontline Scarcity Area." Scarcity areas include a Health
Professional Shortage Area as defined by the Health Resources and
Services Administration Shortage Designation Branch of the US Department
of Health and Human Services (HHS), or an area designated by a state as having a shortage of
frontline care services. HHS' Secretary can give preference to a
scarcity area in which an entity has demonstrated that it has an
interdisciplinary program, or pledges to initiate such a program. The
Secretary also determines the amount of the loan
"APTA applauds Representative
Braley for introducing this much needed legislation and including
physical therapists in it," said APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD.
"With health care reform legislation on the horizon, it's imperative
that our leaders address workforce issues as a part of overall reform.
The Frontline Providers Loan Repayment Program would bring physical
therapists to areas in the country where their services are greatly
In addition to physical therapy,
the following qualify as frontline services: general surgery,
chiropractic, optometry, ophthalmology, audiology, speech language
pathology, pharmacy, public health, podiatric medicine, dietetics,
occupational therapy, general pediatrics, respiratory therapy, medical
technology, and radiologic technology. All services must be performed by
a health care provider with the appropriate education.
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.