The future of the physical therapy profession depends on actions taken today — that's why student involvement in advocacy for the profession is so crucial. APTA's PT-PAC, the focus of this year's student-led Flash Action Strategy, can be an important tool in those efforts.
PT-PAC, the political action committee of the American Physical Therapy Association, was created to empower the physical therapy profession to play a stronger role in the formulation of federal laws and policies. The PAC is about building relationships on Capitol Hill and supporting legislative champions for physical therapy, all in an effort to strengthen the profession's ability to thrive, now and into the future.
And while PT-PAC is an important voice for APTA's members, member dues cannot be used for PAC contributions. Financial support has to be voluntary and provided separate from APTA dues.
Here are a few of the things PT-PAC is doing that directly impact PT and PTA students.
Fighting to prevent deep cuts to payment for therapy services.
In January 2021 Medicare is scheduled to make deep payment cuts to 36 different providers; physical therapy is slated for a 9% reduction. This cut, on top of the current economic crisis, is unsustainable for our profession. These cuts not only are devastating for future earning power but also will impact patient access to care. Without intervention by Congress, these cuts will go into effect on January 1, 2021.
Pressing for relief from student loans.
One of APTA's top priorities is addressing the student debt burden, including expanding access for PTs and PTAs in federal loan repayment programs. Currently physical therapists are not included in the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. If APTA-supported legislation, H.R. 2802/S. 970, is approved by Congress, PTs would be eligible for debt relief of up to $50,000 for a two-year contract period to serve in rural and urban underserved communities.
Making physical therapy a diverse and inclusive profession.
APTA is working to enact the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act, H.R. 3637/S. 2747. This bipartisan legislation would provide scholarships and stipends to accredited higher education programs to recruit qualified physical therapy students who are from underrepresented backgrounds, including those from racial and ethnic minorities, those with disabilities, and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Making telehealth provisions permanent.
During the COVID-19 national emergency, the federal government temporarily expanded the eligibility of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants for furnishing and billing for telehealth under Medicare. As it now stands, those allowances end when the public health emergency is ended. To ensure that Medicare beneficiaries and their providers continue to have flexibility in the delivery of care beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic, APTA is advocating to have Congress enact a permanent therapy policy for services provided through telehealth.
The work of the PAC is especially important in 2020, an election year. That's why this year's Flash Action Strategy, set for September 15 and 16, will be all about increasing student support of PT-PAC.
You can help. In addition to joining the Flash Action Strategy, become a PT-PAC Student Star by contributing just $20. You'll be recognized on PT-PAC's website and will receive a Student Stars lapel pin. If you can't contribute $20 right now, consider making a smaller donation. The PAC will put it to good use. Currently, fewer than 2% of students contribute to PT-PAC. Please take the time now to contribute to PT-PAC.
Note: Contributions to PT-PAC are not tax deductible as charitable contributions. Contributions are voluntary. Your contribution will be used to support candidates for federal office who support physical therapy issues. The amount given by the contributor, or the refusal to give, will not benefit or disadvantage the person being solicited. The suggested amount is only a suggestion. More or less than the suggested amount may be given.