Our advocacy blast that began Monday, April 19 is off to a great start with approximately 20,000 messages sent to the Hill in the first couple days. A big thank you to all members and supporters who have acted. In addition to accessing our message center through the TAKE ACTION page on our website, you can also text AARCLOBBY to 52886 and send a message quickly wherever you are.
We received word this week that Senator Schatz is asking organizations to sign-on in support of his reintroduction of the CONNECT for Health Act, which is expected very soon but unfortunately not in time for our meetings with Congressional leaders beginning April 26. AARC has added its name to the list of organizations supporting the bill. We are hopeful that the House will follow with its reintroduction shortly thereafter. As soon as we have bill numbers, we will let our members know and update our documents and website accordingly.
CONNECT for Health Act updated
It is official that the provision in the CONNECT for Health Act that would include respiratory therapists to furnish telehealth services in payment models being tested by Medicare has been retained in the updated bill to be reintroduced. Other important provisions in the new bill that remove barriers to telehealth coverage include expanding the use of telehealth via waivers, removing geographic requirements for telehealth services, permanently allowing the home to be a telehealth site, and including the use of telehealth in emergency medical care. These are important steps in allowing vulnerable populations, such as those who suffer from chronic respiratory disease, to continue to receive the care they need without putting their health and safety at risk as new cases of COVID-19 across the country continue to be reported.
Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act
The AARC has been working with our coalition partners from the physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology and audiology professions in meetings with key Congressional leaders in support of the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act which is expected to be reintroduced in the House and Senate in soon.
We have met with staff from the White House Domestic Policy Council and key committees of jurisdiction. Our coalition also sent a letter to the Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) committee as they sought public comment in preparation of their actions on workforce policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As noted in the letter, “it is important to anticipate what is required for a thriving and diverse health workforce to address the long-term effects of the virus. A diverse health care workforce can help to both address preexisting health disparities among the population, as well as those disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act helps meet these challenges.
Another important aspect of members’ support for this bill is that it addresses an important objective in the AARC’s strategic plan. That is, “to encourage and support diverse and underrepresented populations to enter the respiratory profession.” This bill would help strengthen and expand the comprehensive use of evidence-based strategies shown to increase the recruitment, enrollment, retention, and graduation of students from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds in the allied health professions, which includes respiratory therapy. For these reasons, it is important to support the bill.
Our blast for messages to the Hill continues through April 30. If you haven’t taken action yet, you have plenty of time to do so. Don’t wait – TAKE ACTION today!
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