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  • White House Proposes $1.1 Billion to Reduce Opioid Abuse

    In a proposal aimed in part at building on an initiative that includes APTA, President Barack Obama has designated $1.1 billion in new funding over 2 years to intensify the fight against the country's opioid use and heroin abuse epidemic.

    According to a White House fact sheet, Obama's proposal takes a "2-pronged approach" to address the drug problem: $1 billion in new mandatory funding for expanding treatment for individuals with an opioid use disorder, and $500 million to increase prescription drug overdose prevention strategies, including more funding for medication-assisted treatment. Some of the funds will be directed specifically to rural areas of the country, which have seen disproportionately high levels of abuse and overdose.

    The proposal, which requires congressional approval, further intensifies the administration's focus on the opioid abuse epidemic. That focus received national attention in October 2015, when Obama announced the creation of a public- private partnership to combat opioid abuse and heroin use. APTA is participating in the initiative along with 39 other health care provider groups that include the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Nurses Association.

    APTA has long advocated for the role of the physical therapist (PT) in pain management, using its MoveForwardPT.com website to educate the public, and featuring new approaches to pain treatment being used by PTs in a 2014 feature story in PT in Motion magazine. More recently, the August 2015 issue of Physical Therapy (PTJ), APTA's peer-reviewed journal, included a discussion of how to interpret the burgeoning effectiveness evidence from recent clinical trials and systematic reviews on pain treatment.


    • This is crucial for me as a physical therapist. Chronic or persistent pain is a problem that affects millions of Americans. Doctors, although they have begun to utilize physical therapy more often in the treatment of pain, still tend to prescribe dangerous pain medication to people (especially pain management clinics). Addictive opioid medication does not lead to a long-term solution to pain. In fact, it just perpetuates the cycle. Physical therapy, on the other hand, offers a long-term and comprehensive approach to treating persistent pain conditions, without harmful side affects. However, doctors, and much more importantly, insurance and drug companies, need to be held accountable. Physical therapists are faced with larger and larger struggles to treat patients appropriately due to low reimbursement rates from insurance companies. When insurance companies only pay a fraction of what we bill, we are forced to treat more patients per day. This inevitably leads to poor quality of care, which leads to patients not getting better in a timely fashion, and finally results in the continuation of the use of pain medication. Insurance and drug companies have forced the physical therapy market into a viscous cycle that has led to poor quality of care. This needs to be addressed with stronger government regulation of insurance companies and higher reimbursement rates and lower co-pays. Ultimately, if physical therapists are not forced to treat so many patients oer day due to better reimbursement rates, PTs can give higher quality care. Also, if a larger percentage of the population can afford physical therapy, more conditions can be evaluated and treated without wasting thousands of tax-payor dollars with useless tests. These solutions ultimately will save the healthcare industry and tax-payors billions of dollars and make all healthcare providers more accountable for better quality of care.

      Posted by Lauren McDowell on 3/31/2016 10:00 AM

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