At the beginning of April over 285 physical therapists, members of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), from all over the country, went to Capitol Hill for the annual APTA Federal Advocacy Forum. We visited our senators and house legislator's offices to discuss important issues that affect our profession and our patients.
Why Do We Do This?
Legislators at both the federal and state level don't know that much about health care, especially physical therapy! These are same people that are making policies into laws that affect all of our lives. It is imperative that the profession of physical therapy, as well as patients, let legislators know what physical therapists do so that they can understand and appreciate the services. With this knowledge, legislators will then be able to make informed decisions that will positively affect all of our lives.
This year the focus was on ways in which physical therapists can help congress to end the opioid crisis. The APTA has had a campaign going on called ChoosePT (www.moveforwardpt.com) which encourages the public to utilize the non-pharmacological treatment of physical therapy rather than turning to an opioid, which does not solve the issue.
Since the mid 1990's, the health care system has used a pharmacological approach to manage patient's pain. This approach only masks the pain and does not solve it. As anyone who has ever gotten physical therapy knows, PT can get to the root of cause of the pain, exploring and working on things like alignment, muscle tightness, and weakness. PT's suggest that health plans should include benefit design and reimbursement models to support the early access to non-pharmacological interventions such as including PT's as primary care providers in an integrated team approach and place PT's in community health center's. We also suggest that barriers to care, such as the burden of prior authorization and high co-pays, be removed so that patients can increase access to person-centered non-pharmacological interventions. Finally physical therapist's would like to help with the Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA's) all over the country, with 147 in New York state alone by being added to the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program, which serves 11.4 million Americans annually. We discussed this vision of the end of the opioid epidemic with our legislators and asked them to consider us as part of the solution when drafting legislation on this matter.
Transforming Society One Step At A Time
In 2013, the APTA adopted a new vision statement: "Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience." Working together, we can be Better Together! We can propel the physical therapy profession forward into the future and meet the APTA's vision of transforming society.
Dr. Theresa Marko, PT, DPT, MS is a physical therapist & owner at Marko Physical Therapy, PLLC in NYC.
Dr. Marko specializes in general orthopedics, as well as adolescent injuries and pediatric issues. If you would like to reach out to her you can by email or phone.