Bipartisan Senate budget deal boosts health programs

In a rare show of bipartisanship for the mostly polarized 115th Congress, Republican and Democratic Senate leaders announced a two-year budget deal that would increase federal spending for defense as well as key domestic priorities, including many health programs.

Not in the deal, for which the path to the president’s desk remains unclear, is any bipartisan legislation aimed at shoring up the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance marketplaces. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) a vote on health legislation in exchange for her vote for the GOP tax bill in December. So far, that vote has not materialized.

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ACA Anti-Discrimination Rule for Health Care Providers, Payers Takes Effect July 18

In a combination of changes that codify longstanding guidance and expand definitions, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will very soon implement an anti-discrimination rule that could alter the ways some providers and payers manage care.

Beginning July 18, health care providers and payers that accept federal dollars will be subject to a provision of the Affordable Care Act barring discrimination in care and coverage on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and sex. As with other similar changes at the federal level, the new rules include gender identity discrimination in the definition of sex discrimination—meaning, among other things, that individuals must be allowed to enter the restrooms, hospital wards, or other gender-restricted areas that are consistent with their gender identity.

Full story of ACA anti-discrimination rule for health care providers at APTA

Keeping PTs in the Workforce May Be Key to Reducing Anticipated Shortage

No matter how you slice the data, there will likely be a growing shortage of physical therapists (PTs) in the coming years. And while there are several moving parts that could affect just how big the shortage will be, authors of a new study believe that keeping PTs from leaving the workforce could have a major impact on reducing those supply gaps.

For the study, e-published ahead of print in APTA’s journal Physical Therapy (PTJ), researchers compared methodologies they used in calculating workforce projections in 2010/2011, 2012, and 2013. Authors describe how changes to elements such as a rise in PT graduates, a decline in the number of PTs failing the National Physical Therapist Exam (NPTE) for licensure, and the increase in the number of insured Americans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have an effect on just how significant the shortage of PTs will be through 2020.

But it turns out that the biggest variable may be 1 of the hardest to pin down—exactly how many PTs will be lost to attrition over the next 5 years.

Full story of keeping PTs in the workforce at APTA