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Larsen discusses physical therapy in Smokey Point
SMOKEY POINT The physical therapists of NorthSound Physical Therapy in Smokey Point met with U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.),
Aug. 22, to share their concerns about fostering the practice of physical therapy in areas such as Arlington.
NorthSound physical therapist Bart Hawkinson, who also chairs the Skagit/Snohomish Counties District of the Physical Therapy Association of Washington, spoke with Larsen about House Resolutions 748 and 1552, both of which Larsen has co-sponsored.
HR 748 would remove Medicare therapy caps on reimbursement for outpatient rehabilitation services, while HR 1552 would allow patients direct access to physical therapist services under Medicare.
The current cap limits Medicare patients to $1,780, or about 15 visits, Hawkinson said. The problem is that elderly patients heal slower than those in their 20s, and a hard cap limits our ability to provide adequate services.
Since the state of Washington already allows other patients to see physical therapists without referrals from primary care physicians, Hawkinson asserted that allowing Medicare patients to do the same would streamline the process, reducing both the time and costs spent.
Hawkinson and NorthSound owner Marty Stanton also expressed their support for HR 1134 which would provide debt repayment for physical therapy students choosing to practice in rural and underserved areas, such as Arlington.
We need to produce more physical therapists, Stanton said. Otherwise, youre faced with the choice of either serving everyone and decreasing your quality of care, or sticking to your guns and managing access. Were in an altruistic, service-oriented profession, though, so neither is acceptable.
Local physical therapy clinics like NorthSound make important contributions to our local economy, and more importantly, to the health and well-being of our communities, said Larsen, who represents Washington states 2nd Congressional District. Ill keep working in Congress to support patients and the health care providers who serve them.
Congressman Larsen is a strong supporter of many issues important to patients and providers of physical therapy services, Hawkinson said. We are grateful he could take time out to get first-hand experience with the profession of physical therapy.