AOTPAC Representatives Promote OT to House Leader
Photo caption: From left: Deborah Yarett Slater, Nancy Johnson (R-CT), and Karen Jacobs discussed the Medicare outpatient therapy caps at an October 11 political event.
(11-6-06) AOTPAC Board member and former AOTA President Karen Jacobs, EdD, OTR/L, CPE, FAOTA, and AOTA Practice Associate Deborah Yarett Slater, MS, OT/L, FAOTA, represented the American Occupational Therapy Political Action Committee (AOTPAC) at a reception for Representative Nancy Johnson (R-CT) on October 11 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Johnson is chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, whose jurisdiction includes Medicare and legislation affecting payments for health care, health delivery systems, and health education. Any legislation relating to Medicare must be approved by the subcommittee before going to the House floor.
Johnson, who has been endorsed by AOTPAC this year and in previous elections, is running for re-election this year in a close race.
Jacobs and Slater spoke with Johnson about the important role of occupational therapy in the changing health and social system. They spoke of occupational therapy's success in supporting older Americans to "age-in-place" and continue to be active members of society.
"Our message was simple: occupational therapy has much to offer to help solve both social and fiscal problems," explained Slater. "We advocated with Representative Johnson to make sure that occupational therapy is fully available to Medicare beneficiaries because it can help to stem long-term costs." Slater and Jacobs focused on issues of importance to Representative Johnson: chronic care management, modernization of the health care system and fiscal responsibility.
"It's extremely important for all AOTA members to be politically aware and to seize opportunities to talk with politicians," said Jacobs, a member of the AOTPAC Board of Directors. "Who better to explain the benefits of occupational therapy?"
As for political involvement, Jacobs noted that "(w)e need to support candidates who understand occupational therapy and who recognize the contributions our profession can make in addressing health and social issues. The more interactions we have with candidates and elected officials, the greater the likelihood that they'll remember us when they're looking for solutions. By being visible and supporting AOTPAC efforts, we can ensure that we're known and understood when decisions are being made."
AOTPAC works to further the legislative aims of the Association by influencing the selection, nomination, election, or appointment to public office of individuals who are supportive of occupational therapy.