Lobbying For Loans

July 6, 2011, by Heather Fletcher, PT, DPT

Politics? Government? I’ve never been into politics, mainly because I don’t really understand much of it. When I was first approached with participating in PT Day on Capitol Hill, I thought, as many of you might have, “I know nothing about politics”. After reading over the legislation the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is advocating for, I quickly realized I was more into it than I thought. The reality is I felt passionate about the topics.  I could personally relate to each piece of legislation, and I was able to use this personal connection when speaking with the staffers (office staff who relay the information to the legislators) of the politicians.

The day started with 1,000 physical therapists gathering with the APTA for a rally on Capitol Hill. There was a lot of energy on the Hill for a hot summer morning. We then separated into small groups to meet with our legislators and/or their staffers.

In our meeting with the legislative staffer, we individually spoke about a piece of legislation that was personal to us. Being a recent graduate with a large amount of student loans, as I am sure many of you can relate, I found it very easy to talk about the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.  Since this program is already an active piece of legislation, I spoke to the fact that of the 12 health care professionals currently eligible for this repayment program, physical therapists are not mentioned. Therefore, we are essentially sending health care professionals into rural and underserved areas to identify the need, but there continues to be shortages in rehab and therapy services available. If recent graduates did not have large amounts of loan payments each month, perhaps more people would be inclined to work in rural and underserved areas. Since I was able to relate to this piece of legislation on a personal level, I could tell I was making a difference.

Since it turned out to be so easy for me to actively participate in this rally, it really made me think, “Why are there not more people involved? Perhaps it is because people are afraid? Think it is too much work? Or maybe you need the extra push because you just don’t know how?” Well, here is my call to get involved! It’s so easy! Send your legislator a letter about repealing the Medicare Cap or the Loan Repayment Program today! Legislators do not get too many letters for people asking them to vote against a piece of legislation, so every single letter has the ability to make a big impact. So send your letters today and start making a difference!

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3 Responses to “Lobbying For Loans”

  1. Judy says:

    Excellent, Heather!

  2. Jason says:

    I’m for your cause!

  3. Matt Mesibov says:

    Great blog! Reminded me of my first time on the Hill…not too long ago. I was nervous but asked questions and our NJ federal affairs liaison mentored me and several others. It is awe inspiring going up on the hill, walking through the halls of the congressional offices, meeting the legislative aides or reps/senators and having a very human conversation. Great job Heather!!! Who knows, maybe a PT from every Fox region will want to give it a try next year!