AOTA Board Visits Capitol Hill To Discuss Therapy Cap, Home Health, and Mental Health
By Stephanie Yamkovenko
The end of 2011 is near, and Congress has yet to act on legislation addressing the Medicare therapy cap. AOTA’s Board of Directors understand the challenges of getting Congress to address the cap and other issues important to the profession and spent a day on Capitol Hill meeting with their senators and representatives. In late October, AOTA board members visited nearly 30 legislators in 11 states to discuss occupational therapy and urge congressional action on AOTA’s legislative issues.
“Advocacy from the Board is critical to advancing the profession,” says Tim Nanof, AOTA’s director of Federal Affairs. “Their leadership adds weight to AOTA’s staff and grassroots advocacy because they speak as leaders of our profession, which numbers some 140,000 practitioners.”
In addition to securing new co-sponsors for AOTA’s home health legislation, board members also drew attention and gained co-sponsors to the issue of having occupational therapy practitioners added to the list of qualified mental health providers. (Read more about that issue here).
The Hill visits for the Board of Directors followed AOTA’s largest Hill Day yet, with more than 400 occupational therapy practitioners and students visiting Capitol Hill in September and more than 1,300 participating virtually by sending letters and e-mails to legislators.
“Following up on a very successful Hill Day and the subsequent Program Directors Hill Day, the Board continued to press AOTA’s advocacy presence on Capitol Hill,” says Nanof.
The advocacy work is far from finished. The exceptions process to the cap, which gives Medicare beneficiaries access to the occupational therapy they need, will expire on December 31, 2011, if Congress does not act soon. For the past 6 years AOTA has successfully advocated for extending the exceptions process of the therapy cap, but advocacy from members is one of the most important parts of that achievement. With the current fiscal challenges and political environment, extending the exceptions process is more challenging than ever. AOTA asks all members to contact their legislators in Washington, D.C., and be advocates for the profession.
Stephanie Yamkovenko is AOTA’s staff writer.