Professional Advocacy – It’s Everyone’s Responsibility
Each of us has a right and a responsibility to advocate for our professions. As regulations continue to change and even dictate our reimbursement and delivery of service, we are obligated to voice our support or concern to our senators and representatives on the issues that affect our practice. And they do listen. While visiting Capitol Hill with over 500 American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) members in early October, I listened to the phones ringing in each of the offices and to legislative aides recording careful notes on the feedback from each of the constituents who called in to provide their stance on various issues. Senator Deb Fischer (NE) told our group that she takes the call list home every night and reviews who called along with their viewpoints. But our elected officials are unable to accurately represent the views of their constituents if we don’t reach out.
The AOTA, American Physical Association and American Speech-Language Hearing Association have each created systems to simplify the process for contacting legislators on their websites. Below are a few of the current issues you should contact your legislator about. The bills regarding IDEA funding and the Opioid Crisis are supported by more than one of the associations. See their webpage for full details, then with just a couple of clicks, you can electronically send your support to your legislators.
- Support the Medicare Home Health Flexibility Act of 2017, Federal H.R. 6225, permitting occupational therapists to conduct initial assessment visits and complete comprehensive assessments under Medicare home health plans for certain cases
- The opioid epidemic continues to be a focus and is currently listed as a National Issue on the APTA website
- Advocate for Federal S. 1016 to expand access to telehealth services
- Advocate for Federal H.R. 2902 and full federal funding of part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Get out there and advocate! Your voice and your action really do make a difference.