Advocacy makes a difference—both to challenge regulations as well as to change laws.
January 2020 starts the Second Session of the 116th Congress. As with most election years, it is extremely likely that most of the legislative activity before the general election will be completed before the 4th of July, if not earlier. Therefore, it is important that your Members of Congress hear from you regularly for the first six months of the year about legislation that has been introduced this Congress. This month we will focus on locum tenens.
While private practice physical therapists practicing in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas, medically underserved, and rural areas are permitted to retain a substitute physical therapist when they need to be absent from their clinic, the Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act (H.R.5453) would enable all private practice physical therapists to utilize locum tenens arrangements under Medicare. H.R.5453 would expand the policy nation-wide because, as you know, the need to use a locum tenens in order to prevent an interruption in care is impacted by how many credentialed providers a clinic has and its Medicare patient mix—not the location of that practice. Here’s the PPS one-pager on the issue.
Contact your Representative/their health LA and ask them to cosponsor the Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act (H.R.5453) to allow physical therapists across the nation to utilize a locum tenens to ensure uninterrupted access to care for their Medicare beneficiary patients. Use the following talking points:
- Occasionally, a solo practitioner must be away for short periods for medical, professional, or family reasons. PTs need to be able to bring in a licensed and qualified substitute therapist to continue the Medicare patient’s care—uninterrupted.
- Medicare currently does not allow all PTs to use locum tenens whereas all doctors, osteopaths, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, and chiropractors are able to.
- Locums arrangements are extremely beneficial to patients by preventing regression of progress due to delay in care.
- Cosponsor this bipartisan technical fix (H.R.5453) to expand current law to all private practice physical therapists—regardless of location of clinic.
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 your request with a tweet or Facebook post tagging your legislator as well as PPS using #PPSAdvocacy.
Submit your locum tenens stories
When you need to be away from your practice, does your clinic have enough credentialed PTs to be able to rearrange schedules so that all of your Medicare patients are able to be seen, without delay? If not, then your practice and your patients would benefit if you were able to bring in a locum tenens—a qualified substitute PT—to fill in for the short time you are not able to be in the clinic.
In order to support our efforts to secure cosponsors (and possible passage) of the Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act (H.R.5453), PPS needs anecdotes illustrating how the inability to use locum tenens negatively impacts patient care as well as the effect it has on PTs themselves as small business owners. Please send PPS Lobbyist Alpha Lillstrom Cheng (firstname.lastname@example.org) a brief (up to 200 words) example of how your practice and patient care has been impacted when you or one of your colleagues has been unable to hire a qualified substitute (locum tenens) to provide care when you are unavoidably absent because of illness, pregnancy, continuing education, and more. If you are located in a one of the geographic regions where PTs are allowed to use locum tenens, please send in an example of when you used this privilege to ensure your Medicare patients had uninterrupted access to physical therapy. Please submit your story by February 14.