Skip to main content

APTA.CapitolHillDay.2024-800.png

The Medicare Physician Fee Schedule needs reform. PTs and PTAs should be permanently added to the list of providers able to deliver telehealth services under Medicare. And older Americans deserve better access to PT-led falls screenings. A few hundred Capitol Hill lawmakers and their staff are now better acquainted with those perspectives — and the need for action — thanks to a highly successful APTA Capitol Hill Day that brought 230 physical therapy advocates to Washington, D.C., April 14-16.

Though it may sound like a single-day event, APTA Capitol Hill Day is in fact the culmination of a three-day gathering that brings together APTA members from across the country to learn about advocacy, and then apply what they've learned during a day of in-person meetings with legislators and staff from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. This year's pre-visit educational sessions featured insights from APTA government affairs staff as well as Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.; and Reps. Carol Miller, R-W.Va.; and Darren Soto, D-Fla. Another speaker highlight: CNN commentator and former Clinton White House advisor Paul Begala.

After honing their advocacy strategies and familiarizing themselves with targeted advocacy issues, participants took to Capitol Hill. This year, 230 APTA advocates visited all 535 members of Congress with information folder drop-offs, and held more than 300 legislator meetings.

Efforts were focused on key bills now in Congress: the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act (HR. 2474), which is focused on several much-needed reforms to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule; the Stopping Addiction and Falls for the Elderly Act (H.R. 7618), aimed at incorporating PT-led falls screenings into Medicare; and the Expanded Telehealth Access Act (H.R. 3875/S. 2880), which would permanently add PTs and PTAs to the list of providers able to provide telehealth services under Medicare.

Jeff Jankowski, PT, DPT, ATC, from Oklahoma, participated in APTA's first Capitol Hill Day in 2002 and has attended nearly every year since. He thinks this year's pre-advocacy training was particularly effective.

"APTA staff did an incredible job preparing attendees on the talking points for the three issues that we were advocating for," Jankowski said. "The breakout sessions were also very helpful and geared appropriately whether it was a first-time attendee or someone who had attended many times in the past."

Tracie Adams, PT, DPT, from New Hampshire, and Mason Prickett, PT, DPT, from West Virginia, were both newcomers, but they felt that the experience gave them a solid grounding in advocacy — and a better appreciation of the unique role PTs, PTAs, and students can play in working for change.

"The experience was fantastic, and it was nice to learn a little about the inner workings of our legislation as well as see the impact we can make as therapists," Prickett said.

Adams said that the experience was "amazing and inspiring."

"The highlight for me was having the opportunity to speak with legislators and their legislative assistants about issues that directly impact the physical therapy profession and our patients," Adams said. "Attending Capitol Hill Day reinforced my belief that when we make our collective voices heard we can make a positive difference."

Avery Ellis-Byerly, SPT, who traveled to D.C. from Texas, says her first-ever Capitol Hill Day event was an opportunity to build confidence and connections.

"Advocacy always seems like such a daunting task, but through Capitol Hill Day I was able to gain confidence in my voice and see that my knowledge, even as a student, is still valuable," Ellis-Byerly said. "It was also a great networking opportunity, as I met several other students and clinicians from my state and even the city that I live in. As nerve-wracking as the meetings with legislative officials were, I felt well prepared and supported going into them. At the end of the day, I felt very empowered, and it made partaking in future advocacy less intimidating."

The event may be over, but APTA's advocacy efforts never stop. Members can keep up with the association's advocacy work by signing up for the APTA Advocacy Network, a free, members-only service that sends you special legislative updates and action alerts so you're up to speed and ready to act. It's a great way to get involved — and maybe even get inspired to attend the 2025 APTA Capitol Hill Day.

Prickett thinks members won't regret it.

"To anyone considering attending next year, I say go for it," Prickett said. "It may seem overwhelming, but we are the experts. We need to get involved and educate lawmakers on the value of physical therapy."


You Might Also Like...

News

Overturn of Chevron Deference Standard: The Impact on Health Care

Jul 15, 2024

The June 2024 legal decision will shake up the health care regulatory landscape. APTA will share new information on the impact as it becomes available.

News

Deadline Approaches for Foundation for Physical Therapy Research Grants

Jul 12, 2024

Those applying for Foundation grants need to send submissions by July 31.

News

Search Now Open for the Next Public Member of the APTA Board

Jul 8, 2024

Applications to be the next public member, which cannot be held by a PT or PTA, are due Aug. 15.