Advocacy is Important:  Let Your Voice Be Heard

Posted by Rachel Pigott, MPH, OTR/L, CHT on 06/22/2017

ASHT recently launched the new Legislative Action Center (LAC) in response to our members seeking ways to be more active on the legislative and regulatory changes that impact our profession. We heard your needs, and are proud to share this easy-to-use tool that will help our members become more informed and take immediate action on important issues.

When the Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics rule (CMS-6012-P) was proposed earlier in 2017, roughly 17% of you contacted your legislators using the LAC. This rule poses one of the biggest threats to our profession, and the action taken demonstrates your passion for the profession. We appreciate those members who took the opportunity to engage their legislators on this issue, and we want to see this continue and magnify.

We are again calling on you to let your voice be heard on two important legislative issues that will have a great impact on hand rehabilitation — new bills excluding occupational and physical therapists from mandatory accreditation for orthotics payment, and the American Health Care Act of 2017 passed by the House of Representatives as H.R.1628 and introduced by the Senate June 22, 2017. Both of these issues have immediate impact on our profession, and our lawmakers need to hear from us. 

The Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act (S.1191 and H.R.2599) would permanently exempt us from the mandatory accreditation passed in previous legislation and interpreted by CMS in the recently proposed Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Rule (CMS-6012-P). Currently, there are only three cosponsors for the house bill and one for the senate bill, so we must encourage our lawmakers to support and cosponsor this important legislation.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) has the potential to greatly limit coverage for patients and increase the cost of care. This bill gives states more control over healthcare locally, including waiving all or some of the “essential health benefits” in plans sold within their state by all insurers. Rehabilitation and habilitation coverage could be eliminated under this provision. This could profoundly impair outcomes and quality of life for our patients.  We must move quickly in communicating our concerns with the AHCA to our lawmakers prior to a vote next week. Details on both of these legislative issues can be found on the LAC, along with template letters that can be customized or immediately sent to your representatives and senators as posted.

Every one of us can have an impact. Check out one member’s experience after using the LAC for the first time:

The time for advocacy is now. Visit the LAC and let your lawmakers know your stance on these legislative topics. If you are new to the LAC and unsure of how to navigate this technology, please check out this quick tutorial demonstrating how to send a message to your senator or representative through the LAC.

ASHT has launched a campaign to support the LAC and help fund this endeavor to ensure this great resource remains a member benefit. All it takes is less than $11 per member to keep the communication channels open. Help us keep hand therapy visible by donating today. If you have already donated, our members thank you!

Advocacy for our profession is essential to our survival. Take a few minutes to review the background on these issues and access these convenient links to support and speak out for your profession. “It can be difficult to speak truth to power. Circumstances, however, have made doing so increasingly necessary.” 1 Let us help you speak truth to those in power to advocate strongly for our profession.

1. AberjhaniSplendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays. Available at http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/8052702-it-can-be-difficult-to-speak-truth-to-power-circumstances. Accessed June 19, 2017.