Occupational Therapy Practitioners Offer Health Care Solutions on Capitol Hill

Sep 24, 2012, 15:30 ET from American Occupational Therapy Association

More than 500 lobby Congress as part of the American Occupational Therapy Association's annual Hill Day

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 500 occupational therapy clinicians, educators, and students from across the U.S. convened on Capitol Hill this morning to discuss key legislative issues affecting the profession and the state of health care.

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Organized by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), Hill Day is an annual opportunity for occupational therapy professionals to bring their concerns straight to their state's lawmakers' offices, offer solutions, ask questions, and listen to guest speakers on the topics that affect their work.

"Occupational therapy students and practitioners are united in working together to improve access for occupational therapy recipients," said Gail Fisher, MPA, OTR/L, American Occupational Therapy Political Action Committee (AOTPAC) chair. "Meeting with legislators and their staff can be an intimidating but empowering experience. I expect Hill Day participants to be more willing to help in the future with grassroots lobbying and supporting AOTA so that our voice is heard not only on Hill Day, but year-round."

The group of occupational therapy clinicians, educators, and students advocated to:

  • Urge congressional support to pass the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (S. 829/H.R. 1546) which seeks to repeal therapy caps implemented by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. The current act limits Medicare coverage of outpatient occupational therapy to $1,880 and places a separate combined limit on physical and speech therapy of $1,880.
  • Encourage the inclusion of occupational therapy in the Federal Definition of "Behavioral and Mental Health Professional" in the National Health Services Corps through promotion of H.R. 3762.
  • Urge congressional support of the Medicare Home Health Flexibility Act (H.R. 2468) to give occupational therapy equal footing among other services provided by home health agencies to allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive the most appropriate skilled service to meet their needs.

The goal of Hill Day is to ask for legislators' help to raise the public's awareness that occupational therapy is an evidence-based, research-driven intervention that implements a holistic, goal-oriented practice to help people live life to its fullest. Occupational therapy can play an essential role in meaningful and effective efforts to improve society's health, along with improving the health care system.

Nationwide, more than 140,000 occupational therapy practitioners help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Legislation supporting access to occupational therapy can reduce overall health care costs by facilitating independence among patients.

Visit AOTA's Legislative Action Center at http://capwiz.com/aota/home/ to learn more.

To interview an AOTA staff member about AOTA's legislative efforts, contact AOTA Media Relations Manager Katie Riley at 301-652-6611, ext. 2963, or kriley@aota.org.

Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA's major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to www.aota.org.

CONTACT: Katie Riley
(301) 652-6611, ext. 2963

SOURCE American Occupational Therapy Association