If there was a single takeaway from the 74th gathering of the APTA House of Delegates (House), it's this: the House is working cohesively to see to it that as APTA approaches its centennial, the association continues to embrace its #BetterTogether ideal and lives out its commitment to making bold moves.
Backed by a new mission statement rooted in community-building, the House took actions that point to the kind of community the association will build—one that's inclusive, collaborative, compassionate, and unafraid to take on issues that would impact pursuit of APTA's transformative vision. The actions taken by the House make it clear: for the foreseeable future, APTA will be an outward-facing organization that understands its capacity to be a change agent.
Notable motions adopted by the House touched on the following topics:
In a unanimous vote, the House strengthened APTA’s position on sexual harassment in all forms, encouraging incidents of harassment to be reported, with permission of the affected individual, to that ensure others are not similarly harmed. Debate on the motion was marked by several delegates sharing their own experiences with sexual harassment.
A resolution adopted by the House positions APTA squarely in opposition to policies that would permit a provider to deny services to a patient based on a provider's religious or personal objections to the patient that may be based on the patient’s age, gender, nationality, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, health condition, or disability.
Essential health benefits
The House adopted an APTA position that establishes the association's commitment to a specific set of comprehensive services it believes should be included in all insurance plans available to an individual across the lifespan and without limitations based on preexisting conditions.
Elimination of the improvement standard
The House charged the association with developing a long-term plan to pursue the elimination of the improvement standard—the idea that services are payable only if they result in the improvement of a patient's condition—in all settings and payment situations. The concept, debunked in Medicare thanks to the Jimmo v Sibelius settlement agreement, is used widely in other payment models.
Physical therapist service delivery
In a charge aimed at recognizing that physical therapists often provide person-centered services that are outside of the traditional episode of care model, the House directed APTA to explore revisions to the Standards of Practice for Physical Therapy that embrace concepts of long-term, lifetime, and ongoing relationships with patients.
The House charged the association with developing a strategy to address issues that affect the overall well-being and resilience of PTs, physical therapist assistants (PTAs), and physical therapy students.
The role of PTs and PTAs in disaster management
The House directed the association to better define the role of PTs and PTAs in disaster preparation, relief, and recovery, and to promote this role to key stakeholders.
Many other actions taken by the House were part of a 2-year effort to comb through all existing APTA House documents to bring them up-to-date, incorporate them into similar documents, or eliminate them. Topics addressed included durable medical equipment, clinical education, collaborative relationships with veterinarians, PTA supervision, mentoring, and pro-bono services.
APTA members can view videos of the 2018 House of Delegates online once the archive is posted later this week. Final language for all actions taken by the House will be available by September after the minutes have been approved.