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Patients who receive care through community health centers could find it easier to access physical therapy, if a new bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives makes its way into law.

Called the Primary Health Services Enhancement Act (H.R 5365), the bipartisan bill would elevate the status of PTs in community health centers by, among other measures, allowing them to bill independently for services billed to Medicare and Medicaid. The bill was introduced by Rep. Ron Kind,D-Wis.; original cosponsors include Reps. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Don Bacon, D-Neb.

A news release published by Kind's office characterizes the bill as a move to respond to the needs of patients in rural areas who often receive care through community health centers.

"Increasing access to physical therapy is an important step to combat the opioid epidemic, which has had a devastating impact on many rural communities across the country," the release states. "Ensuring physical therapists can practice in medically underserved areas, including areas heavily impacted by the opioid crisis, will enhance access to non-opioid pain treatments."

"The continuing opioid crisis, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19's long term effects on so many, has made the need for access to physical therapy greater than ever," said David Scala, APTA senior congressional affairs specialist. "We are grateful that Rep. Kind recognizes that need and is leading the way in ensuring that access to PTs is increased at this critical time."

APTA government affairs staff are monitoring the bill and will provide updates on its progress, as well as opportunities to add your voice in support of the legislation.

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