APTA's September Flash Action Strategy: Student-Led, Member-Powered
This year's Flash Action Strategy (FAS) will take place September 18 and 19, and you can help make it the biggest ever.
What Is FAS?
Flash Action Strategy is an annual student-led campaign in which students, educators, and clinicians use social media and email to educate members of Congress about legislative priorities that impact the physical therapy profession. First held in 2013, FAS has resulted in more than 32,000 emails to legislators.
Social media has become a powerful advocacy tool. Many congressional offices have a dedicated staff member who works on social media, and just a few constituents tweeting about an issue can catch the attention of legislative staff.
This year's goal: to increase the number of cosponsors of the Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act.
What Is the Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act?
The legislation, known as H.R. 2802 in the House of Representatives and S. 970 in the Senate, would allow PTs to participate in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program, which repays up to $50,000 in outstanding student loans to certain health care professionals who agree to work for at least 2 years in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).
The addition of physical therapists to the NHSC Loan Repayment Program will ensure that the 11.4 million individuals in rural and underserved areas have access to nonpharmacological options for the prevention, treatment, and management of pain. Currently, there is no rehabilitative component within the NHSC.
H.R. 2802, which has 48 cosponsors as of this writing, was introduced by Reps Diane DeGette (D-CO) and John Shimkus (R-IL). S. 970 was introduced by Sens John Tester (D-MT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Angus King (I-ME) and has 6 cosponsors. (Download APTA's Action App to track the most up-to-date numbers.)
How You Can Participate in #FAS2019?
Get social. The event may be student-led, but everyone can participate! You don’t have to worry about developing your own message or not knowing what to say. APTA has developed messages through the Legislative Action Center for you to use on social media and in emails you can send directly to your members of Congress. It takes only a few minutes to participate, and your reach is wide. It’s already impactful for one person to engage with their legislators on social media, but imagine the influence of several thousand emails and tweets over the course of 2 days, echoing the same message.
- Tell your legislators how the NHSC Loan Repayment Program will affect you
- Tell your legislators what it’s like to be a PT – education is important!
- Tag your posts #FAS2019 to join in the conversation
- Follow @APTAtweets for graphics and other ways to spread the message
Use the APTA Action App. APTA's app, available for both Android and Apple, makes it easy to for you to contact your members of Congress any time.
Using the app, you can:
- Hit the Federal Action Center button to contact your members of Congress.
- Check for talking points on key issues.
- Look up your senators and representative.
- Join PTeam.
- Give to PT-PAC.
Send letters through the Legislative Action Center. This resource allows members to send form letters—that you can personalize—to your members of Congress.
Sending letters in tandem with our social media messages is a great way to get the attention of lawmakers and staff. Visit www.apta.org/TakeAction for more information.
Things to Remember
- Encourage others to participate, to increase our voice.
- Stay on message. We are more powerful when we are all asking for the same thing.
- Include the correct bill numbers (H.R. 2802 for the House of Representatives, S. 970 for the Senate) in your messages.
- Refer to members of Congress with their proper titles.
- Tag your posts with legislators who are not your own. Use the APTA Action App or visit Congress.gov to find out who your legislators are.
- Be negative or partisan.
- Forget to tag your legislators and use the hashtag #FAS2019.
- Post more than 10 times in a day.
There is strength in numbers, and APTA member advocacy is powerful. Due to previous advocacy efforts of members and APTA staff, we have successfully worked to:
- Establish locum tenens for PTs.
- Improve coordination of rehab research through the 21st Century Cures Act.
- Enable PTAs to be covered under TRICARE.
- Eliminate the hard therapy cap under Medicare.
But none of this would have occurred if we didn't educate legislators about how these issues affect their constituents.
Help make a difference on September 18-19 for the physical therapy profession, and for your patients.