Close to 1000 PTs representing all 50 states stormed the Hill in Washington DC June 4th with a big rally and meetings with legislators. Tamra Wroblesky, SPT, and myself proudly representing the SoWH, received a crash course in how the APTA chooses “key” bills to concentrate lobbying efforts; Washington politic realities (in a nutshell, get Republican cosponsors to get anything passed); and how to get a legislator’s attention (Senators love big groups; House Representatives like constituents who live in their district). All legislators want to know (1) how the bill impacts their constituency and (2) how much the bill costs. We learned to use terms like “budget neutral.”
Our mission was simple; ask for co-sponsorship for the following four bills:
- The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (HR 775/S.539) – Reintroduces legislation to permanently repeal the cap on outpatient rehab services. We only missed passage by 2 votes last year on this bill and want to strike while the momentum is there for a permanent fix.
- Safe Play Act (HR 829/S.436) provides standardized guidelines across state lines for concussion prevention and management in youth sports that includes PT as part of the management team.
- PT Workforce and Patient Access Act (HR 2342/S1426) include PTs in the existing National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment program, where grads can work in underserved areas in exchange for tuition forgiveness.
- The Prevent Interruptions in PT Act (HR556/S313) fixes a technical glitch to allow private practice PTs to contract outside qualified PTs to treat Medicare patients in their absence. Right now only PTs credentialed in the same practice can see Medicare patients.
Following an energizing rally, Tamra and I accompanied our respective state groups (Tamra – New Jersey, myself – Michigan) to meet with the Senators (they like big crowds, remember?). We then broke off into splinter groups to meet with our own home district House legislators. Both Tamra and I hit pay dirt …turns out Tamra went to high school with the legislative aide for her district Rep! Talk about connections! I met with Rep. Mike Bishop’s (R-MI) aide, Dan Harder, who was VERY interested in the Safe Play Act because he had three concussions playing sports. Although I am sad Mr. Harder had concussions, he recognized the importance of this legislation and promised he would relate his story to Rep. Bishop to help convince his Republican boss to co-sponsor this bill (Republican backing required to get anything passed, remember?). All in all, not a bad day for the new kids on the Hill!