This April, I was privileged to take part in the Federal Advocacy Forum put on by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). This was without a doubt one of the most exciting experiences I have had since starting graduate school last May. I was also fortunate to share this experience with several other students from our school (Elena Madueno, Lindsay McDonald, Joy Frye, Erin Martino, Amanda Weekes, Kristin Horne, and Veronica Houghton, who are pictured to the right). We were also accompanied by our professor Dr. Eric Chaconas, PT, DPT, MTC, FAAOMPT. Beyond our school, the state of Florida was well represented at this conference with 22 advocates out of the 250 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students in attendance from all 50 states.
During the trip, I had the opportunity to sit in on a town hall meeting regarding alternative payment systems. This was interesting because they proposed a replacement for the 97000 series of reimbursement. Current design of the alternative payment system seems to be designed purely for rehabilitation services. With the ever changing landscape in healthcare, it will be interesting to see how this system plays out. Sunday evening APTA hosted a welcome reception where all APTA members in attendance could mingle and network. This was followed by a dinner with the delegation from Florida at the Palm Restaurant in downtown D.C.
The Physical Therapy-Political Action Committee (PT-PAC) also hosted a fundraiser during the event. Members from across the country could interact and continue the networking process. Through Sheila Nicholson (President, FPTA) I had the honor of meeting Scott Ward (President, APTA). I also met several members of the APTA Student Assembly, who have convinced me to pursue leadership in our national organization.
The real action picked up on Tuesday. This was our opportunity to meet with Congressmen and/or their Legislative Assistants. Under the direction of Dr. Chaconas, members from Florida spoke to twenty five Representatives and both Senators. I truly hope the legislators from both parties will be able to bury the hatchet and work together for the betterment of those constituents who are responsible for their election to this position of power. As Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants we can do so much to reduce healthcare costs. Education of the public and our law-makers is certainly the driving force behind our efforts towards autonomous practice.