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Legislative Alerts

Act Now on Any Current Legislative Alerts

Current Alerts Since May 7, 2018

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Mar 10, 2018

   WE CONCUR                           WE CONCUR                                  WE CONCUR


What wonderful music to our ears.  Today the Senate concurred (agreed) with the House amendments to SB 273 Reducing use of certain prescription drugs (Opioid Reduction Bill).  This means that the House amendment that put occupational therapy back into the bill has officially passed both Houses and will become law after the governor signs it. The bill  passed 33-0 with one absence.  We are anxiously awaiting to see the Enrolled version of the bill to appear on the bill tracker system so we can see for ourselves the final version of the bill. 


Sarah Black and myself want to thank every WVOTA member who emailed or talked to or left voice mail messages for their House of Delegate or Senate members to ask them to put Occupational Therapy back into this bill.  Please thank your legislator when you get a chance.


We would also like to thank all of the WVOTA members and especially students who attended WVOTA Legislative Day where we were able to make many personal contacts with legislators and the Attorney General that turned out to be so valuable.


Sarah and I are both exhausted having spent many nights up until late planning strategy and praying for a successful outcome for occupational therapy.  It was certainly worth it!!!


Thanks again,

Sarah Black WVOTA President and Mary Hager  WVOTA Legislative Chair

Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Mar 9, 2018

 Friday March 9 update.

 

SB 273 (Opioid Reduction Bill) was not discussed today Friday in the Senate.  Saturday March 10 is the last day of the 2018 Session which will end at midnight.  We will be monitoring this bill Saturday via Live Streaming.

 

Sarah Black and Mary Hager

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Mar 8, 2018

 Thursday March 8, 2018      Update

 

SB 273 with Occupational Therapy in it passed the whole House this morning Thursday March 8.  Now it moves back to the SENATE.  We don't want Occupational Therapy taken out again in the Senate.  The vote to pass this bill will probably happen  tomorrow Friday March 9 or it will go into a conference committee to iron out the difference between the HOUSE AND SENATE VERSIONS. 


Please send emails or CALL your SENATOR and be sure they are aware that OT services need to stay in this bill.
 
You can simply say or write: 
Dear Senator___________________________
I am an Occupational Therapist/Assistant/Student
Please keep Occupational Therapy in SB 273 (Opioid Reduction Bill) as one of the alternative treatments.

Your name and phone number


 
Sarah Black and Mary Hager

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Mar 7, 2018

 Dear WVOTA MEMBERS,

 
Occupational Therapy passed as in amendment in the whole House today Wednesday March 7 in SB 273.  The vote to pass this bill will probably happen  tomorrow Thursday March 8 in the House.   Please send emails or CALL your SENATOR and be sure they are aware that OT services need to stay in this bill when it gets back to the SENATE.  We need everyone to email or phone call your SENATOR now even if you contacted them earlier.

There are only 3 days left to this Legislative Session so things will move very quickly.

Thank you for all that you are doing!!! 


Sarah Black and Mary Hager

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Mar 5, 2018

 Dear WVOTA MEMBERS,


As stated previously, thanks to your assistance, Occupational Therapy is now in Bill 273 and the next reading should be on Tuesday, March 6th in the House. We are encouraging all to please send emails or CALL your senator and be sure they are aware that OT services need to stay in this bill when it gets back to the senate.

Thank you for all that you are doing!!! 
 

Sarah Black and Mary Hager

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Mar 2, 2018

 FRIDAY UPDATE for 3-2-2018


Friday, SB 273 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.  As we said, Occupational Therapy is back in SB 273.

Now we need your help to email or phone all members of the House  to support the House Committee Substitute SB 273 that includes occupational therapy. The vote in the whole house will be taken either saturday (tomorrow) or Monday.

The only delegates who do not need to be contacted are the Health and Human Resource Committee members since they are already supporting occupational therapy.  Everyone else in the House needs to be contacted NOW.


Thank you so much for all of your help we are almost there!!!!! 
 
WE still need your help!!!!!!
 
 

Sarah Black and Mary Hager

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Mar 1, 2018

Today with all of your help and Sarah Black participating in the House Health and Human Service Committee meeting,

 

Occupational Therapy is back in SB 273.


NOW WE NEED YOUR HELP TO EMAIL  or  PHONE the members of the House Judiciary Committee to support the House Committee Substitute SB 273 that includes occupational therapy. The vote may be taken sometime Friday. 


The members of the House Judiciary Committee are:Shott, Hanshaw,Fluharty,Byrd,Canestraro,Capito,Deem,Fast, Foster, Harshbarger,Hollen,Isner,Kessinger,Lane, Lovejoy,R. Miller,Moore,Overington,Queen,Zatezalo


The only delegates who do not need to be contacted are the Health and Human Resource Committee members since they were all at the committee meeting today.


THANK YOU ALL FOR ALL THAT YOU ARE DOING!!


Sarah Black and Mary Hager

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Feb 22, 2018

Please see Attached letter that you can fill in to assist with supporting efforts to include Occupational Therapy into SB 273 (Opioid Reduction Bill) 

We need YOU to continue to call YOUR delagates in the Health and Human Resource Committee!!!!!

PLEASE...... DO YOUR PART as an Occupational Therapy professional...... to include Occupational Therapy into this very important Senate Bill 273

Thank you!!


Read Attached Document
Read 2nd Attached Document

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Feb 27, 2018

                                                           WVOTA MEMBERS

Please take this time as an OT/ OTA professional to assist with increased opportunities for Occupational Therapists to work within the mental health settings, drug rehab facilities and pain clinics.  

 

SB 273 (Opioid Reduction Bill) will be discussed in the House Health and Human Resource Committee and House Judiciary Committee this week.  Please contact the Judiciary Committee members NOW by email or leave a voicemail asking them to include occupational therapy in SB 273 (Opioid Reduction Bill).  Also leave your name and phone number.

 

The members of Judiciary are: Shott, Henshaw, Fleisschauer, Fluarty, Byrd, Canestraro, Deem, Fast, Foster, Harshbarger, Hollen, Ianer, Kessinger, Lane, Lovejoy, R. Miller, Moore, Ovevington, Pushkin, Queen, Sobonya, Zatezaio

Summer and Robinson have already been contacted so no need to contact again at this time 

Thank you,

Sarah Black and Mary Hager

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Feb 28, 2018

I wanted to send a BIG THANK YOU to those who have made calls to your legislative representatives..... THEY ARE HEARING US and we need to continue to be aware of the next steps of this process...

I went to the capital this morning and have been in communication with Mary Hager (WVOTA legislative chair) daily. I met with various delegates and senators and the secretaries have said, "oh yes, we have been getting calls" SO AGAIN A BIG THANK YOU AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!!...

At this point I have been notified that Thursday (tomorrow) there is supposed to be a reading of the SB 273 and I am told that OT will be written into the Bill and included as an alternative treatment for opioid reduction... but I believe this is one of the more important first steps of many steps..... so we will need to still be watching and paying attention.

 

This is not over yet!!!   

Please keep up the good work and please know YOU are a voice and YOU are being HEARD

 

Thank you!!!!
Sarah VM Black MOT, OTR/L
President of WVOTA 2018
West Virginia occupational Therapy Association

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Feb 20, 2018

WE are asking everyone to call their House of Delegate person and request that occupational therapy be included in SB 273 as one of the treatment alternatives.
There is so much we can do to help reduce opioid abuse.

These Delegates are on the Health and Human Resource Committee that the House Bill is in.
Ellington,Summers,Longstreth,Pushkin,Atkinson,Bates, Butler,Campbell,Cooper, Criss,Dean, Fleischauer,Frich,Hill,Hollen,Householder,Iaquinta,Love,Queen,Robinson,Rodighiero, Rohrbach, Rowan,Sobonya and White.

All of our House of Delegates need to be contacted but these are the most important today.

It has been very hard to get to talk to people today so I would suggest leaving a voice mail as well as an email.

Thank you and please let me know if you have any luck with anyone saying that yes, they will include occupational therapy.

As of today, Occupational Therapy WAS NOT included in the latest draft of the bill.
Mary Hager

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Feb 20, 2018

*****Please call your House of Delegate Member today and ask him or her to include occupational therapy in SB 273******


Title: Reducing use of certain prescription drugs. (Opioid Reduction Bill)

 

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Sep 25, 2017

 

  • The Senate has revitalized efforts to restructure the Medicaid program and replace the Affordable Care Act.  This legislation could affect more than 80 million Americans, by some estimates. The American Occupational Therapy Association has grave concerns about the Graham-Cassidy Health Care bill and urges you to contact your Senators today. Our top five concerns with the bill include:

    1. Will insurance and Medicaid cover OT?

    2. What will happen to hospitals?

    3. Will children be affected? What about Medicaid funding in schools?

    4. Will people with pre-existing conditions or older individuals still be able to afford coverage?

    5. What will happen to the insurance market, including your own health insurance?

    It is important that your Legislators hear from you, their constituents. Protect the profession.  Protect the people we serve.  Act today!

     

    Sincerely,

    Heather Parsons

    Associate Chief Officer for Federal Affairs

    American Occupational Therapy Association

    fad@aota.org

     

    For more details read:

    Five Ways the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill May Affect OT and Your Clients

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Jan 8, 2018

 

Medicare beneficiaries are now subject to the cap on rehab therapy services.  With no exceptions process in place, there is a $2,010 cap on occupational therapy (OT) services and another $2,010 cap on both speech-language pathology (SLP) and physical therapy (PT) services combined for the calendar year. 

While NASL had hoped that the bipartisan efforts of the House Ways and Means Committee, House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senate Finance Committee would have permanently ended these arbitrary limits on beneficiary access to necessary PT, OT, and SLP services, Congress failed to act in December to repeal the cap - or even to extend the exceptions process, which expired on December 31, 2017.

NASL and our colleagues in the Therapy Cap Coalition sent a letter this week imploring Congress to act to repeal the cap by January 19th when the current Continuing Resolution expires - or at least to put the exceptions process back in place until Congress can reach an agreement on the policy moving forward.  We need YOU to contact your Representatives again and to tell Congressional leadership to repeal the therapy cap before January 19th - and BEFORE Medicare beneficiaries begin reaching the therapy cap limits.

 

TAKE ACTION NOW

 
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ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Feb 12, 2018

 

Dear AOTA Member,                                                                                             Friday Feb 9th, 2018

This morning the President signed into law a permanent repeal of the cap on Medicare outpatient therapy services. After 20 years of looming threat, the therapy cap will never again put beneficiaries at risk for being denied essential occupational therapy services.

Many of you have seen firsthand the devastating effects that a cap on occupational therapy services can have on the clients we serve. Like some of you, I lost my job when the cap first took effect in 1999. Today, because of you, this policy is no more! Over the years, you have written hundreds of thousands of letters to tell Congress to stop the cap. You have placed thousands of phone calls to tell Congress why occupational therapy is essential for our clients.

Because of your membership, AOTA was able to lobby and gather critical data that pushed the therapy cap over the finish line. Last year AOTA commissioned a study that demonstrated the positive impact of the current medical review process on patient access and overall costs. This information was instrumental in developing a bipartisan compromise for a permanent repeal. Your membership allowed AOTA policy staff to work with Congress to draft the repeal legislation and ensure Medicare beneficiaries can have access to occupational therapy when they need it.

Our profession has faced many challenges over the years, and there will be more ahead. Some new challenges were introduced in this same bill. For today, we must celebrate the end of a senseless policy that threatened the health and well-being of Medicare beneficiaries and our profession for 20 years.

Thank you for your membership, and thank you for your advocacy.

Amy Lamb, OTD, OT/L, FAOTA

Placeholder
 

For more information on provision included in Budget bill:

Permanent repeal of the Medicare therapy cap

Home Health changes for therapy

Changes to Medicare reimbursement for occupational therapy assistants

Placeholder

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Feb 12, 2018

Please be sure to come to the capital for legislative day TOMORROW  Tuesday Feb 13th.

We will be in the main retunda!!!! Come and support Occupational Therapy and participate to help explain what the OT profession is and how beneficial we are for the state of West Virginia!!!!

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Feb 12, 2018

 View a web version.

AOTA-Logo-Resp.gif
 
 

Dear AOTA Member,

As you know, last Friday Congress passed a $1.4 trillion budget package to keep the federal government running, increase spending on defense and domestic priorities, and extend multiple health and human services programs. Among these multiple provisions was a permanent fix to the hard cap on Medicare outpatient therapy services that had once again gone into place on January 1, 2018.

However, this massive budget package also included provisions that AOTA did not support. One of these provisions made changes to the way occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are paid under Medicare Part B. Starting in 2022, after 2 years of data gathering, OTA and PTA services will be paid at 85% of what is paid for services provided by a therapist. This is similar to the current approach to payment for physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) who are in general paid 85% of what physicians are paid. AOTA successfully opposed this payment change when it was proposed in the past.

AOTA first learned of these provisions late on the evening of Monday, February 5th, when the House first released this massive bill (just as the Rules Committee began meeting on the bill) which included this provision as a pay-for, among many others. According to Congressional rules, bills that generate new spending must include some "pay-fors." These are policies that generate revenue or reduce government spending to offset, at least in part, the cost of other policy provisions that require additional revenue. Pay-fors are often kept quiet to prevent advocacy against them.

We were dismayed and concerned by the inclusion of changes to OTA and PTA payments at the last minute; this provision had not been included in previously released discussions or drafts of this budget bill. AOTA had been inquiring about pay-fors for months. Some pay-fors were rumored, but none included the OTA differential. Nor did we hear about the changes to therapy in home health. We did expect some changes to hospital and skilled nursing payments.

After the late-night release of the bill, the following day, Tuesday February 6, while the Senate was still creating its version of the budget package, AOTA reached out to our Congressional champions to oppose these provisions, and, alongside the American Physical Therapy Association, proposed alternatives to the OTA provision—alternatives that would have stopped its adoption or minimized its impact. Additionally, on Tuesday AOTA changed all grassroots advocacy messages related to the repeal of the therapy cap, to include details of the OTA payment changes. AOTA's position was to ask Congress to first study the issue and its effect on beneficiary access before implementing a change in OTA payment policy. Despite this lobbying, this alternative was not accepted, and the OTA payment changes were included in the final Senate legislation eventually signed by the President.

Repeal of the Medicare outpatient therapy cap was a significant achievement that protects all occupational therapy practitioners providing Medicare Part B services, as well as beneficiaries. Starting on January 1, 2018, all beneficiaries became subject to a hard cap of $2,010 for outpatient occupational therapy services, meaning Medicare would not pay for any services over this cap. In 2015, the last year for which there was data, 58% of occupational therapy Part B services occurred over the cap. This translates to $879,000,000 in claims.  Repeal of the therapy cap needed to happen to preserve access to occupational therapy services for Medicare beneficiaries. However, AOTA did not approve of or suggest the payment changes for occupational therapy assistants' services in exchange for the repeal. AOTA was not consulted about these changes—we opposed them as soon as we were informed, we let our members know they were part of the legislation, and we sought to change them.

With passage of this bill, we can and will continue to fight. Over the next 4 years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) must implement this new OTA policy. Many questions must be answered about the legislative language, which is very confusing. We must also assure data is collected and examined to see whether there are geographic areas (e.g., rural) or settings (e.g., skilled nursing facilities) where beneficiary access to services may be negatively impacted by this shift in payment. We must also reach out to physician assistant and nurse practitioner colleagues to assess the impact the differential has had on them.

We must and will be able to influence the regulatory process through grassroots advocacy, calling on our Congressional champions and leveraging our relationships with CMS. We will make sure policy makers understand there can be unintended consequences from this change and try to narrow CMS's interpretation of the new law.

Sincerely,

Christina Metzler

Chief Public Affairs Officer

The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

 

P.S. Please watch for AOTA updates about other provisions, both positive and negative, included in this budget bill, such as the elimination of the use of a therapy threshold in the home health payment method (which AOTA opposed), and on the positive side, extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program and funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers, which we supported, and for information about a webinar on February 27, at 7:30 pm ET, with AOTA President Amy Lamb and Policy staff.

AOTA Website
 
American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
4720 Montgomery Lane Suite #200
Bethesda, MD 20814-3449

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert from WVOTA
Jun 26, 2017

 
Senate Health Care Bill Threatens Medicaid
On Thursday June 22, the United States Senate released a discussion draft of their health care reform bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA). While much of the healthcare reform discussion has been about fixing or repealing the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), the major provisions of the bill released yesterday relate to Medicaid. After careful analysis, AOTA is deeply concerned that BCRA would undermine the Medicaid program and put the millions of children and adults with serious disabilities, students receiving special education support services, people receiving home and community based services, individuals with mental health needs, those in nursing homes, and many others at grave risk of reduced or lost benefits.
 
BCRA would change Medicaid from a system where the federal government “matches” payments for all medically necessary services a state chooses to provide to beneficiaries, to one that provides states with a capped amount of money to spend for all beneficiaries. This will require hard choices by the states and inevitable cuts to Medicaid programs and services. Over time, the Federal government will pay less and less for Medicaid services and State Medicaid programs will have to make up the difference, or diminish services. As states are faced with difficult financial decisions they will have to reduce benefits such as rehabilitation benefits for adults and home and community based services, reduce reimbursement to providers, or find ways decrease or slow Medicaid enrollment. States may eventually be pressured to reduce services to children from the current broad mandate of Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment services (EPSDT) which protects all children on Medicaid.
From early intervention and schools, to skilled nursing facilities, to community mental health programs these proposed changes will negatively affect occupational therapy practitioners and the people who are in need of our services. We urge you to call your Senate offices today (yes, even on the weekend!) and ask that they reject these dramatic changes to Medicaid.
AOTA’s legislative action center will walk you through the steps. You can call or write, but you need to take action before next week’s vote.
Sincerely,
 
Heather Parsons
Director of Federal Affairs
The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

ACT NOW - Legislative Alert!
Mar 23, 2017

Hello OT Activist,

AOTA has been closely tracking a bill in Congress, the “America Health Care Act”, that is meant to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. We have been concerned with provisions in the bill that would restructure Medicaid payment to states. However, new language being added to the bill today, would potentially do away with mandated Medicaid benefits such as those guaranteed to children under Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment benefit (EPSDT). We are deeply concerned about these changes that will most likely be incorporated into the bill before it is voted on by the House tomorrow.

Please take action to protect Medicaid benefits for those most in need. Write to your Members of Congress at "aota.org/takeaction" ahead of the tomorrow’s vote and ask them to protect Medicaid benefits.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Happy Advocating!
Heather Parsons, Director of Federal Affairs
Jill Tighe, PAC/Grassroots Associate


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