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AOTA Amps Up Advocacy Efforts With 3 New Hires

Bethesda, Md. (Jan. 29, 2014)—In an ongoing effort to advocate for the profession of occupational therapy, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is pleased to announce three new additions to its Public Affairs team: Joshua Veverka as a State Policy Analyst; Jeremy Furniss, MS, OTR/L, as a Coding and Payment Specialist; and John Ray as Legislative Representative. 

  • In his role as state policy analyst, Veverka will work to advance the association’s public policy goals through a variety of state legislative and regulatory affairs activities. He will monitor and analyze proposed legislation and regulations affecting occupational therapy, assist state associations on issues pertinent to them, and function as the AOTA liaison between the association and state regulatory boards on professional trends and issues. Veverka is a native of Pennsylvania.
  • Furniss, a native of Arkansas, will provide analytical support related to public and private payment policies, particularly in relation to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) as published by the American Medical Association (AMA) and activities of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS); serve as an analyst for all AMA coding activities including development of CPT codes; and support AOTA’s HCPAC Advisors and internal committees related to coding and reimbursement to formulate comments to the AMA.
  • In his role representing the profession on Capitol Hill, Ray will advocate for AOTA’s interests before the U.S. Congress and federal agencies, promote grassroots advocacy by AOTA members, monitor and analyze federal legislative proposals to assess implications for the profession, conduct lobbying activities that proactively support the association’s legislative goals, and participate in membership education about advocacy efforts.

“AOTA recognizes that policy is the linchpin for reimbursement and therefore the economic viability of the profession of occupational therapy,” said Christina Metzler, Chief Public Affairs Officers for the association. “Our new staff will continue our mission to protect the integrity of the profession through licensure, and to ensure that occupational therapy is properly defined and paid for, that quality services are available to all who need them, and that any new coding and reporting requirements are tailored to recognize the distinct value of occupational therapy.”

Nationwide, more than 140,000 occupational therapy practitioners help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Occupational therapy plays an essential role in meaningful and effective efforts to improve society’s health, along with improving the health care system. Legislation supporting access to occupational therapy can reduce overall health care costs by facilitating independence among patients.

AOTA’s legislative goals include Congressional support of the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (S. 367/H.R. 713) which seeks to repeal therapy caps that limit Medicare coverage of outpatient occupational therapy that is medically necessary for rehabilitation services; promote the important role of occupational therapy in meeting the needs of people with mental health and substance abuse disorders and urge recognition of occupational therapists as behavioral and mental health professionals under the National Health Service Corps (H.R. 1037); seek support for the Rehabilitation Improvement Act (S. 1027), a bill to improve, coordinate, and enhance rehabilitation research at the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) at NIH; and encourage funding for special education by explaining the impact that federal special education funding cuts have on the ability to provide services to students with disabilities.

Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA's major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to www.aota.org.