Where are your Members of Congress?

Congress was in session from September 9th through September 27th.  The next planned recess is for the first two weeks of October.  This means Members of Congress are likely to be back in their home districts participating in events and meetings, between September 30th and October 14th

Advocacy Opportunity 1:

If you see your lawmaker be sure to say hello, hand them your business card and invite them to come to visit your clinic before the end of the year.  Remember, one of the goals of the PPS Key Contact program is that the Member of Congress you are assigned to will come to associate you with the profession of physical therapy, the local economic impact of your small business, and seek you out as a trusted touchstone for whether or not legislation proposed would be favorable to private practice physical therapists. 

Reach out to the district office to request a meeting with staff and offer a site visit to either them or the lawmaker themselves.  When planning your meeting with your legislator or their staff, please refer to the “Nuts and Bolts of In-District Advocacy” document on the PPS advocacy page for tips.  Use social media to thank (and tag) your lawmakers anytime you get to talk to them about private practice physical therapy issues.  Please tag PPS using #PPSAdvocacy as well as a hashtag to point out that you are small business owner and a constituent, try something like #SmallBizOwner[then write the state and district] (for example #SmallBizOwnerNY12).  Get creative!

In-Person Advocacy on Capitol Hill

PPS sponsored a targeted fly-in and Key Contact Training for 68 select members of the PPS Key Contact team in Washington D.C. on September 23rd and 24th.  Participants had meetings in 164 offices on Capitol Hill and talked to their Member of Congress or staff about PPS’ top advocacy priorities. 

Expanding Access to Care in Health Professional Shortage Areas

The bipartisan Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (H.R.2802/S.970) is gaining momentum.  H.R.2802 currently has 57 cosponsors—14 cosponsors have been added since the August recess (which means it was likely a result of you and your fellow Key Contacts making the ask).  S.970 now has 7 cosponsors having gained Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS) and Doug Jones (AL) since the beginning of August.  Check the hyperlinks to see if your legislators have cosponsored this important bill.

These bills seek to add physical therapists to the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).  As you know, the NHSC allows for the placement of certain health care professionals in areas designated as a health care professional shortage area (HPSA).  In exchange for serving at least two years in these areas, eligible health professionals are provided up to $50,000 towards the cost of their education.  Adding physical therapists to the NHSC will enable patients in underserved areas have better access to nonpharmacological options for the prevention, treatment, and management of pain. 

Advocacy Opportunity 2:

Help amplify the in-person advocacy of the fly-in by reaching out to your lawmakers.  If your lawmaker has already signed onto the bill, be sure to thank them.  If not, extend the reach of the PPS fly-in by calling or emailing your lawmaker and their healthcare policy staff and ask for your Senator/Representative to cosponsor the Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (S.970/H.R.2802) to add physical therapists to the list of providers eligible to participate in the National Health Service Corps.  Check here to see if your clinic is located in a HPSA, if so make sure to let your legislator know.  A one-pager that you can refer to and share with your Members of Congress and their legislative staff is available on the PPS advocacy page.  If you are on social media, follow up with a tweet or facebook post tagging your legislator as well as PPS using #PPSAdvocacy. 

Use the following talking points:

  • Adding physical therapists to the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) will increase patient access to PT care and rehabilitation in underserved communities across America.

  • Cosponsor S.970/H.R.2802 in order to improve access to nonpharmacological options for the prevention, treatment, and management of pain—either to prevent opiate abuse or to help those who are already struggling with addiction to opiates. 

  • This bipartisan effort could improve lives of those in pain while also encouraging PTs to practice in rural and underserved areas.

  • In 2012, the NHSC had an 82% retention rate for providers within the program. (We want lawmakers to hear about this incredible Return on Investment for federal program dollars)

  • Student loan debt often forces physical therapists to turn down opportunities to join private practices and open small businesses. Banks charge higher interest rates for small business loans if that person also carries student loan debt.  This additional expense adds to the challenges of opening a private practice.

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