The Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation (APTQI) commends the introduction of the Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (H.R. 2802), a bill aimed at addressing the shortage of physical therapists and physical therapy professionals across the United States.
The bill is sponsored by Reps Diana DeGette (D-CO) and John Shimkus (R-IL).
A companion bill to the bipartisan S. 970, which is sponsored by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Roger Wicker (R-MS), the legislation will enable physical therapists to participate in the National Health Service Corps student loan repayment program, according to a media release from APTQI.
“Introduction of the Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act in the House represents a major step forward for millions of American patients who need physical therapy services—particularly in rural and high-need areas,” says Nikesh Patel, PT, executive director of APTQI.
“By expanding access to these critical services, we can help address the serious shortage of physical therapy professionals just as demand for PT services and safe alternative to pharmacological painkillers for pain management is on the rise. We commend Congresswoman DeGette and Congressman Shimkus for their leadership and urge Congress to pass this bipartisan, commonsense bill quickly.”
An estimated additional 27,000 PTs will be needed by 2025 to meet demand for safe, professional, and patient-preferred physical therapy services, according to estimates. This problem is particularly acute in rural areas because many physical therapists are concentrated in major metropolitan areas. Many community-based PT operators are eager to invest in underserved communities if they had the resources to recruit more PTs and expand care.
The Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (H.R. 2802) would create important incentives for more medical professionals to enter the specialty, expanding access to care in rural and high-need areas by ensuring the availability to PT professionals in these markets over time, per the release.
The National Health Service Corps works to alleviate shortages of medical professionals around the United States by offering student loan relief to medical professionals who commit to serve in a medically underserved or designated health care professional shortage area. Participants would be eligible to receive up to $50,000 toward their educational costs if they commit to serve in a medically underserved or designated health care professional shortage area. Participants would also be eligible to extend their service to 5 years to receive up to $100,000 in student loan repayments.
Unfortunately, under current law, the NHSC loan repayment program does not allow physical or occupational therapists to participate, despite the fact that many PTs work in NHSC-approved sites like Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), private practices, and outpatient facilities. This makes it difficult for physical therapists to deliver services and open new centers in critically underserved markets.
Enacting bipartisan legislation to address this issue is a crucial first step toward ensuring all Americans, regardless of geographic location, are able to access quality physical therapy services, the release explains.
[Source(s): Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation, PR.com]