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  • APTA State Policy and Payment Forum Registration Now Open

    The big state issues that directly affect physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs)—copay legislation, health care reform implementation, scope of practice, dry needling, and much more—will be front and center at the 2014 APTA State Policy and Payment Forum. Registrations are now open for this important members-only gathering, to be held September 13 – 15 at the Grand Hyatt in Seattle, Washington.

    The forum is designed to increase PT and PTA involvement in and knowledge of state legislative and payment issues that have an impact on the practice of physical therapy, and to improve legislative, regulatory, and payment advocacy efforts at the state level.

    In addition to presentations on current advocacy efforts in the states, the Forum will include a case study on state legislation allowing PTs to ordering imaging, a session on infringement from other providers, and 2 luncheon speakers: Washington State Rep Laurie Jenkins and Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, director of health care innovation and value Initiative at the Brookings Institution.

    Registration is online-only—no onsite registrations will be offered. Visit the Forum registration page to sign up and learn more about the forum.

    Physical Therapy a Good Fit at Bloggers Convention

    Don't be surprised if the next health and wellness blog you read seems a bit more attuned to physical therapy.

    APTA exhibited at Fit Bloggin’14,a national conference of nearly 300 health, fitness, and wellness bloggers from across the country, held in Savannah, Georgia, June 26-29. Sixteen volunteers from the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia (PTAG) offered hands-on—and feet-on—experiences to the bloggers by conducting screenings on laptop posture and treadmill running gait. The volunteers also took time to educate the writers about the role that physical therapy plays in reducing injury risk and safely maximizing performance.

    APTA member Stephania Bell, PT, OCS, CSCS, injury analyst and senior writer for ESPN, was also on hand to lead a session to a packed house about how to build a respected blog. Bell highlighted the many resources APTA has available to enhance blog content, including Media Corps experts. Staff also met one-on-one with several bloggers to further educate them about how APTA’s experts and information can lend a credible, third-party expert voice to their content.

    And the outreach efforts are already paying off. This week, fitness blogger Toledo Lefty's Perfect in Our Imperfections features a post that includes a lengthy interview with APTA Media Corps expert Robert Gillanders, PT, DPT, OCS, and several exercise and training-related links from the MoveForwardPT.com website.

    Over the next few weeks, staff will be following up with these bloggers to suggest story ideas and experts for their blogs.

    NEXT and House of Delegates Photos Are Ready

    Anyone ever tell you you oughta be in pictures? Turns out, you might be—along with your physical therapy friends and colleagues.

    Scores of photos from the 2014 NEXT Conference and Exposition, as well as the 2014 session of the APTA House of Delegates, are now available as prints or digital downloads from David Braun Photography.

    To purchase, go to http://davidbraun.photoreflect.com and click on "NEXT 2014" under "Recent Photos." Enter password: hamstrings and click on the photo group you’d like to view. Select your photos and order through the shopping cart. If you have any questions, please contact David Braun at info@davidbraun.com.

    New APTA Resource on 2015 Fee Schedule Available

    A new APTA resource provides highlights of the provisions in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed 2015 physician fee schedule rule—including one proposal that would move physical therapists (PTs) into a program that currently applies only to physicians.

    A major quality program change that will have a significant impact on physical therapists in private practice, the proposal to expand the value-based modifier (VM) program to all nonphysician eligible professionals (including PTs) in 2017 could carry penalties for PTs in private practice who do not meet reporting requirements. Currently, the VM program applies only to physicians.

    Closely tied to the physician quality reporting system (PQRS), the VM program uses PQRS data and other metrics (quality and cost) to determine an overall value score that will be used to determine Medicare payment. Under this proposal, eligible PTs in private practice who fail to participate in both the PQRS and VM programs in 2015 would be subject to a 4.0% VM penalty and a PQRS penalty of 2.0%, for a cumulative 6.0% penalty in 2017.

    Details on the VM program are included in the APTA summary on the CMS proposed rule and a new APTA resource on the VM program (.pdf). In addition to information on the VM proposal, the highlight summary document (.pdf) covers changes that will affect payments, changes to the PQRS, misvalued codes, accountable care organizations, quality program changes, and more. The new information is part of APTA's Medicare Physician Fee Schedule webpage.

    From the House of Delegates: PTAs, 'Early Career' Individuals Focus of Membership Efforts

    APTA will have an opportunity to further enrich involvement from both physical therapist assistants (PTAs) and early-career physical therapists (PTs) and PTAs, now that the APTA House of Delegates (House) has approved efforts to increase the value of membership for both groups.

    In separate motions approved at the 2014 session of the House June 9-11 in Charlotte, North Carolina, delegates voted to create plans for increasing the value of APTA membership for the PTA and to "explore new and innovative ways to increase membership recruitment and retention of early-career individuals," defined as PTs and PTAs practicing within their first 5 years after graduation.

    The motion approved by the House (RC 11-14) only calls for a general plan to increase the value of APTA membership for the PTA, and "leaves to the wisdom of the [APTA Board of Directors] the discussion of how Board or any other representation by PTAs might be implemented so it would be feasible and effective," according to the motion's support statement. The statement described an opportunity for association growth, pointing out that of an estimated 67,400 PTAs in the US, just over 5,600 were members of APTA. This number could increase, motion sponsors asserted, if PTAs were afforded opportunities for greater decision-making involvement in the association.

    "It seems reasonable that such input through elected representation on the Board of Directors should be considered and could be implemented," the statement noted, adding that PTAs are already included in the leadership of some chapters. The plan is to be presented in December 2014 for consideration at the 2015 House of Delegates.

    To some extent, the issue of PTA involvement has been taken up by the Board of Directors already. At its April meeting, Board voted to draft bylaw amendment proposals for the 2015 House that would allow components to provide PTA members a full vote at the component level, make PTAs eligible to serve as chapter delegates at the discretion of each component, and make PTAs eligible to run for nonofficer positions on the Board. The Board also agreed to explore the possibility of creating a "section-like" component for PTAs in 2015 (see related PT in Motion News story).

    The association will also be developing a plan to reach out to early-career PTs and PTAs in ways that, like the PTA proposal, would make association membership more valuable to this group. A status report is due to the 2016 House of Delegates (RC 15-14).

    "Early-career individuals … are at a highly vulnerable and impressionable point in their careers," according to the motion's support statement. "Early-career PTs and PTAs are arguably in the most influential 5 years of their careers, as their practice habits, clinical values, and ethics are being formed on a daily basis." A stronger presence in the association could not only provide early career PTs and PTAs with an important element of professional identity, but keep the association relevant across a wide range of experience levels.

    Like the PTA proposal, the motion approved by the House leaves the association latitude to develop a variety of approaches. Motion sponsors pointed out that the proposal was not calling for the creation of a new component or governance structure, or supporting the idea that separate classifications or positions be created within the association or its chapters. Instead, the support statement characterized the effort as one that would "funnel interested individuals into existing opportunities," and "better tap into the potential of early career individuals" in ways that would "develop our future leaders and build the strength and voice of our professions for decades to come."

    In other House decisions around membership issues, delegates approved a relatively minor change to APTA bylaws that will allow members of the Student Assembly to remain in the Assembly from graduation to the next House of Delegates (RC 20-14). Prior to the bylaws change, Student Assembly members who graduated before an upcoming House were disqualified from participating; the change allows these recent graduates to serve out one more House term.

    APTA members can view videos of all open sessions of the 2014 House of Delegates online. Final language for all actions taken by the House will be available by September after the minutes have been approved.

    From the House of Delegates: APTA Has a Role in Strengthening PT Education

    If physical therapy wants to truly embrace its vision of transforming society, the profession will need to be equipped with a diverse, well-educated workforce comfortable with innovation and capable of working across disciplines. It's an idea that's as fundamental as it is complex, and one that the 2014 House of Delegates (House) supported through several education-related motions passed at its most recent session June 9–11 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    The motions approved by the House included "Promoting Excellence in Physical Therapist Professional Education" (RC 12-14), a position that spells out the association's commitment to educational program quality, and its expectation that physical therapists (PTs) who teach in and oversee these programs share in this concern for quality.

    Specifically, the position sets out the expectation that PTs with an interest in teaching possess advanced terminal degrees or a clinical doctorate; and that they agree to teach in or direct only programs that demonstrate a commitment to innovation and excellence. The new position also calls for the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) to adopt stringent criteria "to reflect the needs for qualified faculty and program directors, access to sufficient clinical education sites, and adequate infrastructure (eg, physical, fiscal, and personnel); and the current and emerging needs of society."

    The House also focused on supporting clinical education through the adoption of a motion that directs the association to engage in a collaborative process to establish best practice "from professional level through postgraduate training" (RC 13-14). The motion calls for the association to propose "potential courses of action for a doctoring profession to move toward practice that best meets the evolving needs of society" and requires a report to the 2017 House of Delegates. Areas of focus are to include current models of PT clinical education, mandatory postgraduate clinical training, stages of licensure, findings from related studies, and information on clinical education in other health care professions.

    "Best practice in clinical education and training remains an enigma, and evidence remains limited or nonexistent to determine what is most effective in these areas to enter a doctoring profession," according to the support statement that accompanied the motion. "This situation requires coordinated action to determine best practice in clinical education and training to enter a doctoring profession."

    Delegates also acknowledged the increasingly important role of interprofessional education through a vote to officially endorse the Interprofessional Education Collaborative's core competencies around cross-disciplinary education and collaborative practice (RC 18-14). The competencies address values and ethics, roles and responsibilities, communication, and teamwork, with a focus on the importance of the appropriate use of knowledge of the professional's own role coupled with a solid understanding of the roles of other professions.

    The support statement that accompanied the motion described the "unique opportunity" for physical therapy to join in efforts to promote these competencies. "It is critical to prepare PT practitioners capable of demonstrating these core competencies to be integral members of the health care team in serving the interests and needs of patients, clients, family/caregivers, and other health professionals," according to the statement.

    Ideas of inclusiveness were also extended to more nuts-and-bolts issues of physical therapy education, when the House approved a motion to adopt a definition of an "underrepresented” minority in physical therapy education as "the racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in physical therapy education relative to their numbers in the general population, as well as individuals from geographically underrepresented areas, lower economic strata, and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds." [RC 14 -14]

    The support statement accompanying the motion asserted that the definition will assist education programs in developing a diverse student body, and presents a view that is not prescriptive. "The … definition extends beyond traditional racial and ethnic categories to also include individuals from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds (eg, first-generation college students), low socioeconomic status, and geographically underrepresented areas (eg, Appalachia)," according to the statement.

    APTA members can view videos of all open sessions of the 2014 House of Delegates online. Final language for all actions taken by the House will be available by September after the minutes have been approved.

    From the House of Delegates: 'Friend to Physical Therapy' Michael J. Axe Named Honorary APTA Member

    By unanimous vote, orthopedic surgeon Michael J. Axe, MD, became an honorary APTA member during the 2014 House of Delegates, June 9-11 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Called a "friend to physical therapy" in the resolution for his membership, Axe was recognized for his extensive contributions to rehabilitation research and his team approach that includes physical therapists' diagnostics in sports medicine and patient and client care, according to the support statement accompanying the motion. Axe became the 41st honorary member of the association [RC 19-14].

    "He recognizes that surgery, his specialty, is just 1 component of the total picture of rehabilitation," Delaware Delegate Cathy Ciolek, PT, DPT, GCS, said on the House floor in presenting the motion.

    Axe has contributed to research for a variety of patient populations and conditions, including ACL tears, return-to-play management after injury or surgery, knee osteoarthritis, and throwing injuries in baseball. He also has dedicated significant time to teaching entry-level physical therapist students.

    In accepting the membership honor, Axe showed yet another area in which he supports APTA and the profession. Having been convinced that "when a PT is employed by a physician the honesty of the relationship has been compromised," he said, "my colleagues are well aware of my negative stance on physician ownership of physical therapy." The remark received a standing ovation.

    APTA members can view videos of all open sessions of the 2014 House of Delegates online. Final language for all actions taken by the House will be available by September after the minutes have been approved.