Washington, D.C. (Sept. 30, 2013) — At least 750 occupational therapy clinicians, educators, and students from across the U.S. convened on Capitol Hill this morning to discuss key legislative issues affecting the profession and the state of health care.
Organized by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), Hill Day is an annual opportunity for occupational therapy professionals to bring their concerns straight to their state’s lawmakers’ offices, offer solutions, ask questions, and listen to guest speakers on the topics that affect their work.
“Occupational therapy students and practitioners are united in working together to improve access for occupational therapy recipients,” said Gail Fisher, MPA, OTR/L, FAOTA, American Occupational Therapy Political Action Committee (AOTPAC) chair. “Meeting with legislators and their staff can be an intimidating but empowering experience. I expect Hill Day participants to be more willing to help in the future with grassroots lobbying and supporting AOTAPAC so that our collective voice is heard not only on Hill Day, but year-round.”
Today’s record-setting group advocated to:
- Urge congressional support to pass 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.
- Discuss the 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.
- 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.
The goal of Hill Day is to educate legislators that occupational therapy plays an essential role in meaningful and effective efforts to improve society’s health, along with improving the health care system.
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). Legislation supporting access to occupational therapy can reduce overall health care costs by facilitating independence among patients.
Visit AOTA’s Legislative Action Center at http://capwiz.com/aota/home/ to learn more. See highlights from attendees in real-time by following @AOTAEvents and #OTHillDay.
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.