HAPTA Legislative Activities – Review of 2017

With the recent end of the Hawaii 2017 legislative session, we would like to update our members on what HAPTA did this year and how our efforts turned out. We began 2017 with a contracted lobbyist and some strong strategies. Our plan was for legislators to become familiar with us and to have our voice recognized as a reputable and consistent source of information. We did that and then some.

With the guidance of Lobbyist Joy Gold, HAPTA looked into each of the 137 bills introduced in the legislature. We provided expert testimony on the 14 bills of most interest to physical therapy in HI. As we mentioned in previous months, we also authored and submitted a bill to improve the worker’s compensation fee schedule. We submitted a concurrent resolution as well.

One bill that HAPTA supported that passed all the way through the legislature and, as of June 2, only awaits Governor Ige’s signature before becoming law, appropriates funds for the Healthy Aging Partnership Program. HAPTA supported this bill, as the Healthy Aging Partnership Program provides evidence-based education for kupuna on chronic disease management through Better Choices-Better Health in all four counties, and Enhance Fitness Classes at Kauai and Maui neighborhood centers. On Kauai, over 100 kupuna attend free exercise classes three times per week for an hour. This provides our seniors with education and safe places to walk and exercise. Programs like this are so valuable in our rural communities. Our support of this bill is an example of HAPTA looking out for PTs, PTAs and the patients we serve, and supporting partners that also enhance the health of our communities.

Bills regarding telehealth have been rising at both the state and federal level. This year HB 1272 in the Hawaii legislature specified that telehealth paid for by Medicaid would include psychiatric services. This bill died near the end of the legislative session. As telehealth continues to gain traction in a variety of health professions, it paves the way for its description, payment for and regulations for physical therapy. Log on to the APTA website to see the recent “PT in Motion” article about innovations in telehealth, as well as to find additional telehealth resources.

HAPTA is looking toward 2018 and for continuity in our legislative work. Please help your organization by participating and connecting. We need many supportive individuals to strengthen our voice. Email legislative@hapta.org to get involved or tell us your thoughts and concerns.

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