How will new laws affect our physical therapy practices?
By Amanda Somers, PT, DPT
It was a cold and wet winter day when I sat down to write this article, and all I could think about was spring. April weather is great in South Carolina, but as much as I wanted warm weather, I was also anxious about the environment for physical therapy by April. Will the sustainable growth rate (SGR) payment methodology be changed? Will it be favorable for our patients and practices? Or will Congress once again kick the can further down the road? Even worse, did the March deadline come and go, leaving us with a 20 percent SGR cut and no cap exceptions process? The battle seems to be the same—in fact there has been little change since 1998. So the questions I ponder are: Does APTA have fighting power left? Did our members rally for the fight or wearily sit on the sidelines, saying “What difference can I make?”
With the future unknown, my mind is constantly planning strategies for the possibilities. But one thought recurs: “Why aren’t more of our peers actively engaged in the fight for our future?”
In 2012, less than 30 percent of PPS section members contributed to the political action committee (PAC) (third among APTA sections behind Education and Health Policy and Administration). Only 8.5 percent of APTA members contributed. Even worse, only 29.5 percent of the physical therapists in the United States are APTA members.
In December, when there was a call to action for SGR and cap legislation, only one percent of the members took action. A final desperation call engaged others, but overall participation was low.
I wonder “What is going to happen to our profession if the minority that continually fights our battles grow weary and decide to give up?”
A parable comes to mind: A teacher gives a test. Many students study hard for an “A” and others do not. When grades are returned, the teacher tells the class she averaged all the grades, and everyone in the class would receive the same grade. Those who did not study were ecstatic because they did not exert any effort and received a passing grade from riding on the coattails of those who did prepare. Those who put forth the effort were mad because their hard work “fighting” for the “A” did not make a difference; they were brought down by the majority. On the next test, the “A” students decided not to study because it did not make a difference, and the majority of the students studied even less. This time the group grades were even worse. So, the hardworking students just gave up because their efforts were not enough to pull up the whole class average. When the final exam came around, no one studied, and the entire class failed.
How does studying for exams relate to our profession? It is time for final exams! Have you prepared or are you letting others do the work for you? If you have not prepared yet, you should still have time. Call your elected officials, write letters, educate patients and family, and have them write letters. Make a donation to the PAC. Join our fight and help our profession “pass!”
We need not ask the question, “What is going to happen to our profession if the minority decides to give up?” Instead, live by the words of Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Will you join the small group to change our practice environment or wait and see what the results are if only the minority stays involved?
Amanda Somers, PT, DPT, is a PPS director and co-owner of Sports Spine & Industrial, Inc., in Greer, South Carolina. She can be reached at www.ssi-physicaltherapy.com.