Call to Action: Governor's Budget Proposal

5.20.2015

Dear Rhode Island APTA Members: 

The Governor's proposed budget (House Bill 5900) has been introduced into the General Assembly. Hearings on the budget have begun in earnest before the House and Senate Finance committee's. Two articles in the Governor's budget have a direct impact on Physical Therapy. Several of us have testified against these budget articles 

Both of these budget articles are intended to address the burden of regulation on licensees. The articulated reason put forth at the hearings was to save hassle, time, and money for persons applying for licenses. We are opposing both articles of the Budget.                   

At this point, it remains unclear and confusing as to whether the articles will be amended appropriately to satisfy what we are intending to occur in the legislation on behalf of the Physical Therapy profession.  For this reason, we are moving forward with a universal Call to Action.    

In order to respond to this bill, we are asking that Physical Therapists and Physical Therapy Assistants prepare and send letters to the members of the House and Senate Finance Committees expressing their viewpoints on these two proposed budget articles. In order to assist you in preparing and sending those letters, we have compiled the following talking points for you to reference. When you write the letter, we are urging you to write a typed handwritten letter addressed and snail mailed to using some but not all of the talking points. Please do not refer to them as talking points. We want this letter to be original with you because legislators value personal letters over emails or petitions. 

Please send a minimum of 3 letters.  One letter should be addressed to Representative Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (He is the Chairperson of the House Finance Committee and a major opinion leader on the budget).  One letter should be mailed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives – Representative Nicholas A. Mattiello.  One letter mailed to your district Representative.  More letters can be mailed to other members of the House and Senate Finance Committee but Representative Gallison and Speaker of the House Matiello are the main voices on the Hill.  The address for the state house is: 82 Smith Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903.     

We also encourage you to send letters to your own Senator and Representative. 
Please click here to find your Representative’s address.
Please click here to find you Senator’s address. 

Please mail these letters no later than next week.  This is an urgent matter.  They will be voting on these articles during the first two weeks of June. 

If you have any questions you may email me at jharvey@elitephysicaltherapy.com.  When you have sent your letters, I would love to receive a quick line so that I can keep a pulse on our advocacy efforts.  

Thank you for attention to this matter,

Jason Harvey MSPT
Vice-President - Rhode Island American Physical Therapy Association 


 

House Committee on Finance

Senate Committee on Finance


Article 19 and 20 Review:

Article 19 and 20 Review:
1. Article 19 of the budget eliminates the Physical Therapist Board.

   a. It places physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in a new board that is comprised of eleven members:


     i. Four members selected from 25 other existing professional boards
     ii. Three public Members
     iii. Three members from the "health care industry"
     iv. The Health department director or her designee.


   b. The new board will be called "Health Professionals Board of Review" . The basic regulation, continuing education, licensure and discipline would be handled initially in the Division of Professional Regulation and Licensure".


     i. If an individual was dissatisfied with the results from the division, that person could appeal to the Health Professionals Board.


   c. There is no guarantee that physical therapists would sit on the Health Professionals Board.


   d. The law does provide that the Director of Health, who sits on the Board and appoints all members to the Board, would appoint a non-voting 'subject matter expert' to advise the Board as it relates to each particular profession.

2. Article 20 of the budget eliminates the requirement that Physical Therapy Assistants be licensed healthcare professionals in Rhode Island.


 

Talking Points:

Please include 2-3 “Talking Points” in your letter for each article.  Please briefly describe who you are and in what practice setting you work then use the 2-3 “Talking Points” to oppose each article.  Please keep it short and simple. Please do not refer to the “Talking Points” as Talking Points in your letter: 

Article 19: Elimination of the Physical Therapist Board

  • Agree that licensure should be performed by the Division of Professional Regulation.
  • This is a doctoral level profession.
  • Need to be judged by professional peers on disciplinary matters.
    • Knowledge base               
    • Experience, expertise
    • Due process issue: We want a fair process. But the process as written, allowing the health director [whose subordinates are prosecuting the case before the board], to select the subject matter expert would deny due process to a professional whose license is being judged by the board 

Article 20: Elimination of licensure for Physical Therapist Assistants

  • I am a Physical Therapist that has liability concerns about referring patients to an unlicensed healthcare professional that will be practicing under my license.
  • I am a (business owner, hospital administrator, etc.) who has concerns over the potential to commit unknowing fraud because the PTA who was hired did not meet minimal state guidelines to practice and receive reimbursement. 
  • I am currently a licensee as a PTA.
  • I employ PTAs in my PT practice
  • This is a good paying middle-class job. Based upon a two-year community college education, I am able to earn between $40,000 and $60,000 a year.
  • I am a PTA who is currently licensed to practice in RI but would not meet the minimum standards to continue to have the treatment that I render reimbursable by insurance companies.  (Minimum standards are: 1.) Graduate from an accredited two year PTA program 2.) Passed the PTA National Board Exam.  Anyone practicing in RI will only have the treatment that they render reimbursable if they have met both minimum standards.) 
  • I have no complaint with the requirement of licensure.
  • Licensure is important because it applies professional standards to protect the public.
  • Currently all states license or certify Physical Therapist Assistants.
  • If Rhode Island eliminates licensure for Physical Therapist Assistants, we will become a magnet for people who cannot pass the test or have had other disciplinary problems in other states.
  • We would face elimination of our jobs.
  • The demographic of the PTA profession is female dominated.
  • Eliminating licensure requirements for PTAs would have a negative effect on access to care for the homebound, and those living in rehabilitation or nursing facilities where PTAs work extensively.
  • Physical Therapy Assistants act as a force extenders for Physical Therapists allowing us to provide more treatments in a variety of practice settings.
  • If you are the first healthcare professional in your family, this is a good point to raise.
  • If licensure is no longer required, the department and state would lose approximately $40,000 a year in license revenue. This seems counterproductive.

 


4/3/2015
PT Day on Capitol Hill
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