American Physical Therapy Association

Ask Your Representative to Support Support the Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (H.R. 4829)
The Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (H.R. 4829) would include physical therapists in the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program and give Federally Qualified Health Centers, also known as community health centers or CHCs, options and flexibilities to provide patient access to PT services. On July 24, 2023, Reps. Diane DeGette, D-Colo., and Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., introduced this APTA-supported bill that would help alleviate PTs’ student loan debt burden and better enable PTs to provide critical therapy care to patients in the medically underserved areas. 

The NHSC Loan Repayment Program recruits certain medical providers to work in medically underserved regions, known as Health Professional Shortage Areas or HPSAs. The program awards scholarships and student loan repayments up to $50,000 per participant provided that the medical provider agrees to work in a HPSA for at least a two-year full-time commitment or a four-year part-time commitment. 

Currently, participation in the program is generally restricted to physicians, physician assistants, dentists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and behavioral and mental health providers. H.R. 4829 would add PTs to the program to treat more individuals with pain, chronic diseases, and other conditions in HPSAs. 

Most participants in the NHSC provide care in outpatient settings in the CHCs. However, in a CHC setting, PTs can only work under the supervision of a primary care physician on-site. This provides no incentive for PTs to be on staff. H.R. 4829 allows CHCs the option to hire PTs as they would other medical providers and bill Medicare and Medicaid for physical therapy care – services already covered under those programs. 

Take a few minutes and send an email to your members of Congress asking them to please support increased patient access to rehabilitative care in medically underserved areas by co-sponsoring H.R. 4829.

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