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A Brief Report from the 2018 APTA Federal Advocacy Forum

Posted on: June 4th, 2018 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

2018 APTA Federal Advocacy ForumApril 29-May 1 2018 _ Washington, D.C.

Section on Women’s Health members, rising leaders, and current leadership have recently attended the 2018 APTA Federal Advocacy Forum hosted in Washington, D.C. Gail Zitterkopf, SoWH Federal Government Affairs Chair was joined by Section on Women’s Health 2018 FAF scholarship recipients, Cara Morrison, SPT (Student Member)  and Mackenzie Van Loo, PT, DPT (Early-Professional Member) to observe and report back to the Section on the latest developments. The 2018 FAF was also attended by Carrie Pagliano, PT, DPT, OCS, WCS (SoWH President), Tamela Blalock (SoWH Executive Director), and Secili DeStefano, PT DPT OCS.

The 2018 FAF was attended by 270 Physical Therapists (PTs), Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs), and students (SPTs) from 48 states who converged on Capitol Hill to educate legislators and staff about a range of important issues impacting the profession. Missed out on the 2018 FAF? Check out this blog post on how you can make an impact!


Below are some updates from the forum:

Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act  (S 808):  

This bill has already passed out of the House (H.R. 302), and has been referred to Senate HELP committee.

What We Are Asking For:

  • Cosponsor the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act to extend liability insurance coverage of a state-licensed medical professional to another state when the professional provides medical services to an athlete, athletic team, or team staff member crosses state lines

This Is Your Message:

  • Currently, liability insurance coverage of a state-licensed physical therapist (and other medical professionals) is not required to carry-over when the professional is required to travel across state lines with an athlete, athletic team, or team staff member.
  • This leaves the physical therapist unprotected and without malpractice insurance when required to travel to states that are not their primary practice location.


The Role of PT in Public Health:

This Is Your Message:

  • Improve access to physical therapy services as part of the solution to America’s Opioid epidemic
  • Importance of educating providers and consumers of the role PTs play in reducing barriers through regulatory reform.


The role of PT in Technology and Digital Health:

What We Are Asking For:

  • Cosponsor the CONNECT for Health Act “Telehealth” (HR 2556/S 1016) and Medicare Telehealth Parity Act (HR 2550)

This Is Your Message:

  • Allow PTs to furnish Telehealth services under the Medicare program
  • Provide information on the PT Outcomes Registry and its role as a qualified clinical data registry in value-based health care


PT Workforce and Patient Access Act  (HR 1639/S 619):

What We Are Asking For:

  • Cosponsor the Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act to include physical therapists in the National Health Service Corp’s Loan Repayment Program

This Is Your Message:

  • This legislation matches the goals and mission of the NHSC
  • Can alleviate demand on other primary care providers to increase those serves
  • Provides for greater patient access to rehabilitation (which also could help with Opioid epidemic)
  • No rehab component currently represented in program
  • NHSC is successful pipeline for providers
  • 82% retention rate (PT’s who go to work in these areas, remain in these areas)
  • Helps meet the workforce needs of underserved areas.
  • Demand for PT continues to grow greater than other primary care disciplines
  • This legislation is budget neutral!!


Other Education & Workforce:  Opposed to PROSPER Act (HR 4508) (Reauthorization bill)

This Is Your Message:

  • Discuss the importance of ensuring funding for low-cost student loans, the impact of student debt, and why we are opposed to the PROSPER Act
  • Get rid of the capped aggregate loan amount a student can take out on a federal loan ($28,500/year)

Opposed to the Americans with Disabilities Education and Reform Act (HR 620) as we feel it guts a large portion of the current ADA program.


Lymphedema Treatment Act   (S. 497) (H.R. 930)

Currently, Medicare, and consequently many other policies, do not cover one of the critical components of lymphedema treatment, the medically necessary doctor-prescribed compression supplies used daily in lymphedema treatment. As a result, many patients suffer from recurrent infections, progressive degradation in their condition and eventual disability because they cannot afford the compression supplies required to maintain their condition.

Medicare’s failure to cover compression treatment supplies stems from the fact that these items cannot be classified under any existing benefit category in Medicare statute (law). The Center for Medicare Services (CMS) does not have the authority to add or redefine benefit categories, only Congress does, hence the need for this legislation.

Learn more about Lymphedema Treatment Act.






Giving Voices to Our Women’s Health Patients: Highlights from the APTA Federal Advocacy Forum  

Posted on: April 7th, 2017 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments


Federal Affairs Forum 2017By April Ritz, DPT

First, I want to give a huge shout-out to the Section on Women’s Health for sponsoring me to attend my first American Physical Therapy Association Federal Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C., March 26-28, 2017.

Second, I’m giving special thanks to Gail Zitterkopf, SOWH federal affairs liaison, for taking me under your wing, showing me the city, and sharing your knowledge.

This was a memorable experience for me. We covered so many issues before heading to Capitol Hill to voice our opinions and to educate our elected officials on the following legislation:

  • The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (a.k.a., Therapy Cap Repeal, H.R. 807/ S. 253). The Therapy Cap currently limits Medicare patients to a total of $1,980 for speech and physical therapy services. While extensions can be added, this can delay care. The bill has failed to be implemented 16 times since 1997, and extensions have just been added, but the current extension ends December 31.
  • Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (H.R. 1639/ S. 619). My Representative, John Shimkus is a co-sponsor of this important bill, which would add PTs to the pool of health professionals able to serve in shortage areas (National Health Service Corps). In my district of central Illinois alone, there are 43 health professional shortage areas. Being part of the NHSC also would qualify PTs to be part of the loan repayment program.
  • The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2017 (H.R. 302/ S. sister bill). This bill lets physicians, PTs, and athletic trainers travel with their professional or collegiate team across state borders and still practice. Passed by the House of Representatives, it is awaiting Senate approval.
  • SAFE Play Act. APTA is trying to standardize protocol for concussion management and return-to-play guidelines for youth athletes. Currently, without standards, most states have a wide variety of rules.
  • Lymphedema Treatment Act (H.R. 930). Lymphedema compression garments are not considered Durable Medical Equipment under Medicare, which limits patients’ recoveries and boosts medical costs due to complications from lymphedema.

I know it’s a lot of information, but it would be great if you would contact your state representatives or senators this week. Those of us on Capitol Hill met with or gave an APTA folder to every senator, representative, and/or legislative assistant. Please follow up with them and let them know that you care! They need to hear from their constituents.

Here’s a true story: A representative stopped supporting a PT bill solely because he had not heard from any of his PT constituents that year on the issue. You can use the templates online through the APTA website ( or download the PTaction app on your phone. Try to customize it, though, to reflect that you are their constituent and that you support what the APTA stopped in their office to discuss March 28.

I highly recommend attending the FAF or at least your state PT Day on the Hill! We need to realize that if we do not stand up for our profession, we will be in trouble down the road. If not for APTA and PT-PAC, our profession would not have locum tenens, the ability to practice dry needling and many PT-friendly laws and policies. We would be a lot worse off than we are now!

I know our profession is facing a lot of issues, but we need to remember the Section on Women’s Health, APTA, and PT-PAC are fighting for us. To have the greatest leverage, though, we need to donate to the political action committee. As an APTA member, our annual dues are not allowed to go to the PAC, so we need to make an additional contribution to them. I urge you to do so yearly.

If every APTA member gave $20 a year, we would have the largest health professional PAC. This would help us tremendously! Here is a link for you to donate and support our profession for the future: As a side note, you must be an APTA member to donate to the PAC (it’s the law).

Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson: “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

AUTHOR: April Ritz, DPT, works in outpatient orthopedics and women’s health in Mattoon and Champaign, Ill., for Carle Foundation Hospital. She also works as needed in the acute inpatient setting for HSHS St. John’s in Springfield, Ill.







2016 State Policy & Payment Forum Sets Stage for 2017 Advocacy

Posted on: January 20th, 2017 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments
Jennifer Hungate, Kelly Huestis, and Gail Zitterkopf (left to right) represented SOWH at the 2016 State Policy & Payment Forum.

Jennifer Hungate, Kelly Huestis, and Gail Zitterkopf (left to right) represented SOWH at the 2016 State Policy & Payment Forum.

By Gail Zitterkopf, PT, DPT, CLT, CKTP

The 2016 State Policy & Payment Forum was held September 17-18, 2016, at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, PA.

The State Policy & Payment Forum increases attendees’ knowledge of state legislative issues that impact physical therapy practice and payment, as well as improve individual advocacy at the state level. Such legislation can become a precursor for federal changes and are closely monitored and worked on by APTA and SOWH Federal Affairs Subcommittee members.

The forum provided state legislation updates on the following critical issues:

  • Louisiana – Direct Access
  • Kansas – Dry Needling
  • Wisconsin – Ordering X-rays
  • Florida – PTA Accreditation
  • Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Oregon – Physical Therapy Licensure Compact
  • New Mexico – Youth Concussions
  • Florida – Direct Access and Term/Title Protection
  • Pennsylvania – Fair Copays.

National payment policy updates included the use of tiered evaluation, Medicaid, infringement challenges, effective legislative testifying, reevaluation codes, and state licensure issues.

Want to learn more on the topics that impact your daily practice? Contact Gail Zitterkopft at [email protected] with questions or view forum highlights on the members-only section of the APTA website at “StateForum/2016/Highlights.” You might also consider attending the next State Policy & Payment Forum. For more information, visit the APTA State Policy & Payment Forum website:

AUTHOR: Gail Zitterkopt, PT, DPT, CLT, CKTP, chairs the SOWH Federal Affairs Subcommittee. She will be attending the 2017 Combined Sections Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, February 15-18 and would be delighted to answer questions. Questions also may be addressed to Director of Practice Jennifer Hungate at the SOWH Business Meeting February 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio.






Alternative Payment Models: Not just an “Ortho Thing”

Posted on: May 31st, 2016 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

By NaKisha Jackson, PT, DPT

The new craze is all about “alternative payment models” (APM). In January 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a plan to move aggressively on its goal to transition 30% of

NaKisha Jackson shares an update on PT reimbursement actions.

NaKisha Jackson shares an update on PT reimbursement actions.

traditional fee-for-service Medicare payments to APMs such as the Comprehensive Care Joint Replacement (CJR) program by the end of 2016, and 50% by the end of 2018.

HHS noted it has reached the 30% goal ahead of schedule and will move toward the next milestone.1 The concept seems instinctive for the move toward the “fee-for-outcomes” model that no one could argue is unreasonable. As physical therapists we are a very intricate detail in the overall picture of these clients’ recoveries. However, according to the American Physical Therapy Association, physical therapists are not as strongly considered in this model as we should be in comparison to our impact on those outcomes.

At first glance this may appear to be an “ortho thing.” In our Section, we could assume that this may not have as drastic of an effect on us as it does our other colleagues, whose caseloads are inundated with clients pre- and post-joint replacement surgery.

While orthopaedic surgeries may be on the forefront of this experiment, does it not seem fathomable that other specialties may be on a short list of the HHS? The first two suspects that come to mind are the ever so popular bladder and urethral suspension/sling procedures for incontinence and hysterectomies for complaints of pelvic pain.  How many of these have you seen with poor outcomes and thought to yourself, “I could have helped prior to surgery, and she may have had a better recovery?”

Complications vary from mesh erosion and worsening urgency to increased pain and a host of other issues. What about the other very common and easily justifiable radical prostatectomy? With quality of life being a major outcome focus of most insurers, stress incontinence that was unresolved or not even addressed may also be a red flag for scoring the success level of this surgery.

While our specialty is flying under the radar, this is the perfect time to make sure you are crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s. If this comes down the pike, as all things usually do, to begin to incorporate all major surgical areas that cost insurers and beneficiaries enormous amounts of money, we need to be ready to stake our claim as major players in these outcomes.

Have your personal therapy outcomes ready and in a readable format, so when surgeons and general physicians need convincing that you are the missing piece to the puzzle, you have your ammunition. Use your results as marketing tools, not only to physicians, but to clients and their families and friends as well.

This is especially necessary for those therapists striving for a cash-based practice. What better way to ask clients to forego their insurance and pay you cold hard cash up-front, with no tangible evidence that you know what you are doing?

We are in a prime situation to be proactive and able to advocate for ourselves in a system that continues to underestimate the undeniable benefits of physical therapy to clients and insurers in the form of quality of care and cost control.


  1. APTA Statement on Transition to Alternative Payment Models (Including CJR). 04/16/2016

Author: NaKisha Jackson, PT, DPT, practices in Arlington, Texas, in an outpatient setting solely devoted to enhancing the pelvic health of men and women. She can be reached at [email protected].






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