APTA has successfully secured report language in appropriations legislation specific to rehabilitation research and physical therapy issues recently passed by the US Senate Committee on Appropriations. The association's recommendations for language are well-represented, many times verbatim, in the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies. While this language is nonbinding statutorily, it specifically indicates the priorities of the Senate in the amounts of federal funding it has allocated to specific agencies.
The report language includes APTA's recommendation "… to build a sustainable infrastructure and capacity of emerging scientists in rehabilitation research …" and encourages "awards for emerging scientists, such as physical therapists, to meet this need." The legislation also calls for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to seek opportunities to collaborate with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research within the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. Such a partnership, APTA suggested, "can advance potential opportunities to conduct comparative investigations of rehabilitation interventions with other health care treatment approaches."
Overall, the Senate bill finances many programs important to physical therapy at levels near 2011 funding. However, the committee acknowledges its inability to fund certain agencies at their requested amounts, specifically the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "With tight budgets likely to continue for the foreseeable future, the committee strongly urges NIH to explore creative ways to rethink the way it allocates its funding."
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