Last September, 514 registered attendees consisting of clinicians, students, and educators, joined AOTA’s Federal Affairs staff and AOTPAC Board members inside the Capitol building for the largest Capitol Hill Day ever hosted by AOTA.
Before going to Congressional offices, participants met in the Congressional auditorium to hear an address by AOTA Executive Director Fred Somers and to discuss the importance of advocacy. They also heard a briefing about how to define occupational therapy in a way that will resonate with Capitol Hill staff members, effective advocacy strategies, and specific issues that should be highlighted in Congressional meetings.
In their meetings, occupational therapy advocates urged their legislators to:
- Support the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act, which seeks to repeal therapy caps implemented by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
- Encourage the inclusion of occupational therapy in the Federal Definition of “Behavioral and Mental Health Professionals” in the National Health Services Corps.
- Support the Medicare Home Health Flexibility Act 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 face-to-face meetings with staff from Congressional offices can be nerve racking, whether you are first-year occupational therapy student or an experienced practitioner, but with the preparation and encouragement provided by AOTA staff, the Capitol Hill Day participants overcame their nerves and emerged at the end of the day empowered, motivated, and inspired with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Each year Capitol Hill Day grows. With your help this September 30th, Capitol Hill Day 2013 can yet again set record-breaking numbers.
AOTA has created Hill Day as an opportunity for practitioners, students, and consumers to educate or introduce elected officials to the breadth and depth of what the profession of occupational therapy can provide for their constituents, their local health facilities, their communities, their districts, and their states.
From community-wide health promotion to emerging niches, from improving children’s behavior in schools to improving quality of life for elderly individuals, from working in the criminal justice system to working within the work place, occupational therapy is part of the solution and we need to ensure that the individuals leading our country know what services we provide, and the impact we make.
Now is the time to stand up for our profession, to fight for recognition as mental health providers, to insist clients have access to the services we provide, to claim our role in the primary care arena, and to drive our profession forward in a world of evolving health care, shrinking funding, and constricting requirements and regulations…but also in an environment of emerging opportunity, improving healthcare service quality, and in essence, a growing role for occupational therapy.
Join us on September 30, 2013 for the opportunity of lifetime…a chance to walk hand-in-hand with individuals coming from all over the United States to take a stand for occupational therapy.
Find out more on how to get involved with AOTA advocacy.
For faculty who want more information on how to get your students ready for Capitol Hill Day 2013 – please e-mail us at AOTA at firstname.lastname@example.org