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Wonder if advocacy for physical therapy is still important now that a permanent fix has been applied to the Medicare therapy cap? Just ask the 270 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students from 48 states who converged on Capitol Hill recently to educate legislators and staff about a range of important issues impacting the profession.

The meetings took place April 29–May 1, as part of APTA's annual Federal Advocacy Forum in Washington, DC. Attendees discussed several issues, including:

  • The importance of integrating physical therapy into efforts to address opioid abuse
  • Passage of the CONNECT for Health Act (H.R. 2556/S. 1016), which would ease restrictions on the provision of telehealth under Medicare
  • Concerns about H.R. 4508 and its proposed changes to the Higher Education Act (PROSPER), which would affect student loan amounts, forgiveness, and repayment
  • The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act (H.R. 302/S. 808), which would provide portability of malpractice insurance for PTs and PTAs who travel across state lines with professional and collegiate sports teams

Members also were trained on best practices for advocating through a variety of channels, as well as the role data plays in advocacy. Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report and former political director of ABC News, was the keynote speaker.

event also included APTA's annual recognition of outstanding federal advocacy efforts. This year, Linda John, PT, was awarded the Federal Government Affairs Leadership Award for her tireless efforts as an advocate, a Federal Affairs Liaison, a Key Contact, and a mentor. The association also recognized Sen Thom Tills (R–NC) with the APTA Public Service Award for his instrumental role in including physical therapist assistants within the TRICARE system as part of the National Defense Authorization Act in 2017.

"The level of dedication and engagement at this year's forum was truly impressive," said Jennica Sims, APTA congressional affairs and grassroots specialist. "This kind of energy is crucial in advocacy and helps legislators understand the contribution of physical therapists to ensuring the health and well-being of children, working age adults, and older adults."

 

 

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