Thursday, June 22, 2017 Senate Health Care Reform Bill Contains Provisions Opposed by APTA Despite some changes designed to appeal to a wider range of US senators, the newly released Senate version of health care reform still contains provisions that concern APTA: namely, a loosening of required "essential health benefits" (EHBs) that include rehabilitation services, and changes to Medicaid that could reduce the range of available benefits. Changes are still possible, however, and APTA has plans to reemphasize its positions as the Senate considers the bill. The bill, technically a substitute for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) approved by the House of Representatives in May, is characterized as less extensive in its effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but it contains several of the same features as the House legislation, including plans to cap and then reduce Medicaid appropriations, transition Medicaid to a block grant system, and change EHB requirements-features that APTA has publicly opposed. Like the AHCA, the Senate substitute bill weakens the power of federally mandated EHBs—which include physical therapy—by allowing states to apply for waivers to reduce the requirements or eliminate them entirely. The result, according to APTA, is a likely reduction in access to habilitative and rehabilitative services for millions of Americans that could have lasting societal effects. In a statement on the AHCA, APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, wrote that the EHB change and other provisions set the stage for a health care system that would create "unneeded barriers to care and reduce the access to care for millions of Americans." The bill has yet to undergo review by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and could be altered based on the CBO analysis or compromise efforts within the Senate. Meanwhile, APTA is not sitting still. On June 27, association representatives will participate in a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill aimed at educating lawmakers and staff on the value of rehabilitation and habilitation services and devices in American's health care system. The event is sponsored by the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid, the Habilitation Benefits Coalition, and the Coalition to Preserve Rehabilitation. APTA is a member of all 3 groups. APTA will continue to analyze and monitor the bill and report on potential effects.