The Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (S.970/H.R.2802) was recently updated and reintroduced. This bipartisan legislation seeks to add physical therapists to the list of providers eligible to participate in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) loan repayment program. Participating practitioners can receive up to $50,000 towards their outstanding student loans if they work for at least 2 years in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).
Owners of clinics located in HPSAs could use this program as a recruitment tool! It can be a perk to attract therapists to your area, and possibly reduce the initial salary outlay. Nationwide, there are over 7,000 HPSAs located in rural, frontier and urban settings. Many of the 11.4 million Americans in these communities are being impacted by the opioid crisis, as well as other issues that access to physical therapy could improve. To determine if your office is in an HPSA, visit HRSA’s website and click on “Find Shortage Areas,” and select how you would like to search. Remember, even if now it says “Primary Care,” this legislation would apply to PTs.
If you are supportive of this legislation, let your Senators and Representatives know by asking them to be a co-sponsor through our Political Action Center. (Click on the headline “New Legislation Adds PTs to NHSC Loan Repayment Program” and fill out the contact form on the right side of the page.) The bill language adds a timely hook that specifically mentions that PTs could be used as a non-pharmacological intervention for pain in order to prevent opiate abuse, or to help those who are already struggling with addiction to opiates. The NHSC program is due to be reauthorized this fall, so it is even more important to gain cosponsors on both sides of the aisle now.
Together we can make a difference.