APTA and APTA Pelvic Health never let up on advocacy, and now that persistence is paying off: The combined efforts have paved the way for the return of a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would boost the role of postpartum health — including the role of pelvic health physical therapy — for individuals under Medicaid.
Known as the Optimizing Postpartum Outcomes Act (H.R. 2480), the bill directs the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to develop several provisions that would significantly strengthen Medicaid's emphasis on pelvic care for mothers in the postpartum period, which the bill defines as the period of lactation or six months from the last day of pregnancy, whichever is later. The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Don Bacon, R-Neb., Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Jenniffer González-Colón, R-Puerto Rico, Susan Wild, D-Pa., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.
As it did in its 2022 incarnation, the legislation includes pelvic floor physical therapy among the services that would be covered under Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. The bill also instructs the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to develop and issue guidance on best practices, financing options, screenings, referrals, and access, as well as terminology and diagnostic codes. Additionally, if the law passes, HHS would be required to educate and train health professionals and postpartum women on the importance of pelvic health and pelvic health physical therapy.
APTA's government affairs staff collaborated with APTA Pelvic Health and its Pre-Natal & 4th Trimester Task Force to help legislators shape the language included in the bill.
"APTA Pelvic Health is excited and honored to work with Congress in recognizing the importance of women receiving pelvic health physical therapy during both the prenatal and postnatal periods," said Kim Parker-Guerrero, PT, DPT, the academy's director of practice. "This legislation will support new mothers getting the information and the support they need to access and work with a pelvic health physical therapist during this important time, and will help prevent many issues that may have occurred without this key assessment and treatment."
"I'm excited for the reintroduction of the perinatal bill, H.R. 2480," said Gail Zitterkopf, PT, DPT, government relations chair for APTA Pelvic Health."This grassroots-inspired bill will positively impact and enhance lives through ensuring pelvic health physical therapy for those who are pregnant."
APTA government affairs staff is tracking progress of the legislation and will share developments as they occur. Members, patients, and supporters can urge their legislators to support H.R. 2480 through the APTA Patient Action Center.