U.S. Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New México’s Third District received a Public Service Award last week during a visit to the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center. Leslie Latham, President of New México American Physical Therapist Association, presented Luján with the award on behalf of the Association for his work on the bipartisan Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act, which he introduced in the House of Representatives along with Rep. Gus Bilrakis of Florida.
The proposed legislation adds physical therapists to the list of health care providers who can still provide services to Medicare beneficiaries when another physical therapist sees their patients due to absences such as vacations or illness.
“Allowing short-term therapists to step in and treat patients when a patient’s regular therapist is away means patients receive a continuum of care,” said Evangeline M. Hilario, a physical therapist at the Sandoval Regional Medical Center who is on the board of the New México APTA board. “The situation also provides therapists with a peace of mind that their practice is being covered it they need to take leave for such issues such as illness, pregnancy, vacation, or receive continuing medical education.”
“New México’s physical therapists do more than just heal the body; they also tend to the spirit as they provide a healing touch that helps patients soothe their pain. Yet under current law, physical therapists are denied the opportunity to bring in a qualified replacement while they are away from the office, impacting small and rural practices in particular,” Congressman Luján said. “It’s time to fix this problem and allow physical therapist to take the same steps that are allowed in other areas of the medical profession to ensure the continuity of care for their patients. I look forward to continuing to work with the American Physical Therapist Association to move this important legislation through Congress, and I thank them for this honor.”
A similar version of the Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act has also been introduced in the Senate.