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  • Legislation to Include PTs in Student Loan Relief Program Now in House and Senate

    A little more than 1 month after its companion bill was introduced in the US Senate, legislation that could open up student loan repayment opportunities for physical therapists (PTs) has been introduced in the House of Representatives. The proposed change, strongly supported by APTA, would allow PTs to participate in the National Health Services Corps (NHSC), a federal initiative that provides greater patient access to health care in rural and underserved areas—and incentivizes health care provider participation through a student loan forgiveness program.

    Like the Senate version (S 970), the House version, titled the "Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act" (HR 2802), would allow PTs to participate in the NHSC loan repayment program. The initiative serves an estimated 11.4 million Americans who live in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and repays up to $50,000 in outstanding student loans to certain health care professionals who agree to work in an HPSA for at least 2 years. The House bill is cosponsored by Reps Diane DeGette (D-CO) and John Shimkus (R-IL).

    "If enacted, this legislation would be very good news for PTs, and even better news for patients who need increased access to care," said Katy Neas, APTA's executive vice president of public affairs. "Legislators on both sides of the aisle are recognizing that access to physical therapist services can be a useful tool in the fight against the opioid crisis, which has been especially devastating in rural and underserved areas. Physical therapists are expert in musculoskeletal systems and can provide invaluable services to patients with acute and chronic pain, and this bill will make it easier for patients in rural and underserved areas to access those services."

    In addition to its positive impact on health care access, the legislation could also provide some relief for the rising level of student debt being experienced by graduates of physical therapist education programs. It's a challenge that APTA is working to address, according to APTA Vice President of Government Affairs Justin Elliott

    "APTA's strategic plan envisions a physical therapy profession that's as diverse as the patient population it serves, and that means we must take a hard look at barriers to pursuing a career in physical therapy," said Elliott. "Clearly one of those barriers is the cost of physical therapist education. While this bill doesn't solve the problem, it could provide at least some relief for PTs facing significant student debt."

    APTA encourages members to join the push for the bills by contacting their legislators to urge them to become cosponsors by way of a prewritten letter, available at the APTA Legislative Action Center, that helps to deliver a unified message (member login required).

    APTA staff will closely track the progress of this legislation—be on the lookout for more opportunities to advocate for this important change.

    Comments

    • Fantastic!

      Posted by Jim Scanlan on 5/17/2019 8:59 PM

    • This is so critical for new PT graduates- their student loans are out of control. How do we push for more loan repayment options? How do we push PT schools to create different formats to control the cost of education?

      Posted by Eileen Wu -> ?JRc?J on 5/19/2019 6:24 PM

    • Please vote YES on S 970 and HR 2802!!

      Posted by Paul Ghazali on 5/19/2019 6:43 PM

    • YES on S 970 and HR 2802. This would be any amazing opportunity and a burden off our shoulders!

      Posted by Brett Bartels on 5/21/2019 5:00 PM

    • Agreed! Vote Yes on S 970 and HR 2802. There aren't many companies offering sign on bonuses anymore so this is a great way to get some financial relief early in our career.

      Posted by Tanny Crawford on 5/22/2019 10:14 AM

    • This is terrific news! I just received my first loan for the first of PT school and it definitely adds up with all the expenses outside of tuition. So this legislation would definitely be something I would advocate for. Go APTA!

      Posted by Jesus Altamiranda Molina on 5/22/2019 3:55 PM

    • Please vote yes!

      Posted by Marta on 5/22/2019 4:08 PM

    • This bill is very important to new PT’s who are learning how to treat and trying to figure out how to pay off their student debt, which, as a current student PT, I know that in a few short years, I will be in that exact situation. Please YES on S 970 and HR 2802.

      Posted by Joshua Proctor on 5/22/2019 6:40 PM

    • Yes on HR2802 would be a great help to relief the financial burden and forward the profession

      Posted by Hazeline Moss on 5/22/2019 8:58 PM

    • Yes. HR2802 would be a great help to have relief of the student loan repayment burden when just starting out in anew career.

      Posted by Pamela McQuay- Grimes on 5/23/2019 9:43 AM

    • This [partial] Loan Repayment Program in exchange for working *at least 2 years* for the federal government is THE WORST IDEA for the future of our profession. 1) The Loan Repayments will be made with Tax Dollars from other citizens. Theoretically, one PT’s Loan may be repaid by their classmates who elect to go into non-government jobs. The brunt would be carried by PTs who aspire to own private practices, as they will pay more in various taxes than their counterparts seeking “loan repayment”. 2) Since I began my career in PT in 1976, there have been two goals: A. Advanced-Degree [entry level], and B. Direct Access to PT Services. New PTs do not know the struggles of my generation to develop the respect and autonomy of our profession from the burden of having to have a physician’s referral. We have had to develop the educational programs, lobby for Practice Acts to be changed in each State, and convince the public, as well as the rest of the medical professions, that we “know our stuff”. 3) Do you realize that the amount of the loan which is forgiven is considered INCOME? And this Income will be taxed in the year it is forgiven? You may want to consider how the tax will be paid when your actual wages are barely enough to live on. Are we now going to throw over 40 years of working to bring our profession into the arena it deserves away? If this bill passes Congress, and is signed into law, we have signed our own professional death sentence. It will only be a short time until the scourge of “Medicare For All” renders this “choice to be included” in a loan forgiveness program into a mandate to serve WHEREVER the Federal Govt deems there is a shortage of PTs...& the for “at least 2 years” clause becomes a much longer servitude...until ALL healthcare workers [with federally-backed student loans] have no choice in how to repay them because salaries, across the board, have been depressed in order to “pay for” Medicare For All. My suggestion — both now and back when the previous attempt at this was made — is for the APTA to begin its own Credit Union, it’s own PT School Loan Program, and any other financial services such as “angel investors” which could benefit the masses of students. Please think twice about succumbing to this Loan Forgiveness Program because it is simply part of a long-range plan to establish socialized medicine. K Daly-McEver, 1979 grad from TWU, BS PT, CHT (PS- Obama stated that he thought PT could be done by a high school graduate. THAT is what our Federal Govt/Congress think of and know about our profession!)

      Posted by K Daly-McEver on 5/23/2019 11:33 AM

    • VOTE YES HR2802 and S970. Thank you APTA as a 30 year member of this amazing professional association I appreciate the support for our patients in rural communities and all our EARLY PROFESSIONALS(EPSIG)!! Laurie Shimko

      Posted by Laurie Shimko -> =GS_BH on 5/23/2019 6:27 PM

    • Please vote Yes. This is a mutual benefit to PTs and patients in underserved areas. A chance to make an immediate impact on these patients' lives

      Posted by Luke Greenwell on 5/25/2019 8:55 AM

    • Please Vote YES on S970 and HR2802! New DPT grads need help with student debt. Thank You

      Posted by Tom on 5/28/2019 6:42 PM

    • When are they voting on this?

      Posted by Rachel Boim -> CJW`=H on 5/30/2019 10:36 AM

    • KDM- Please elaborate how this program has hurt MD's and secondaries that have had access to it for years. While you are at it, how about a reference to Mr. Obama's quote? My world wide web is having difficulty searching it up.

      Posted by Andrew Emerson on 5/31/2019 1:05 AM

    • “If the applicant chooses a specialty other than primary care, or otherwise does not fulfill the service requirement, he/she must repay the government 3 times the investment with interest.” This is from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Health_Service_Corps (I will get back to you, Andrew Emerson, with answers to your questions). For now, let me advise all the students and newly-graduates PTs to be careful what they wish for. One of the 3 Greatest Lies is “I’m from the Govt and I’m here to help you”. Read the fine print. Know that your loan to be “forgiven” is not a free lunch; your loan will be paid by the TAXES paid by other US Taxpayers. ***The Govt has no money unless it takes it from the people.*** This is why no one in Govt who promotes “single-payer healthcare” is worried about finding the money to pay for it: if the healthcare workers are indebted to the Govt for their loan repayment, then they are required to work off the debt; if there is no money for your salary b/c your services are rendered for “free”, then you are stuck — stuck depending on the Govt for other free stuff like food, housing, childcare, utilities, and other necessities of life. When I was 10, I asked my dad, “why can’t everything be free?” He said, “because some people wouldn’t work, and the people who worked very hard would quit working because it wasn’t fair for them to have to give away to lazy people what they worked hard to produce”. What are YOU worth? If you’ve made it through PT school I’ll dare say that you’re smart enough to merit an income which will pay off your loans. Please don’t add to the dependence of all US Citizens on the Federal Govt by wanting Govt assistance. Our Constitution does not provide FOR us; our Constitution is to protect our individual freedoms and liberty FROM Govt intrusion and control.

      Posted by K Daly-McEver on 6/25/2019 4:11 PM

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