Jeremy Crow and the Greater NY District representing at the 2019 APTA House of Delegates
Healthcare can be complicated and difficult to navigate at times. Health insurance has evolved exponentially, expanding to cover all kinds of ailments; the added growth, however, can bring about confusion, with important details like referrals, co-pays, deductibles, etc. muddying the waters. It’s important to fully understand one’s own coverage to thoroughly reap the best results in therapy. When in treatment, ideally your physical therapist would prescribe you a treatment plan for your most optimal results. Unfortunately the process is not always linear, as insurance policies vary and may change the path set forth by your PT. Some policies may have restrictions on the number of sessions covered, or even offer no coverage depending on the diagnosis. This contributes to higher out-of-pocket costs for you, the patient. Untangling the issue of affording treatment can easily become another bump in the road on your journey toward improved health.
How can we make changes to the rules and regulations that determine your treatment plan? Change needs to start from the top. Healthcare is heavily regulated on a state and federal level—that’s why it’s essential to have representation for the general public’s needs at these meetings when decisions are being made. SPEAR’s main priority has always been bringing our patients back to life, and that includes championing for changes in healthcare to positively improve your quality of life. Many of our physical therapists are members of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), involved in the community, and participate in the vital discussions shaping the current and future direction of healthcare.
Jeremy Crow, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS, ART, is the Director of Clinical Services for SPEAR and practices out of our Murray Hill location. He is also a very involved member of the APTA, and a strong advocate for the physical therapy field, serving on the Board of Directors and as Delegate to the APTA House of Delegates. Jeremy was recently featured in Jenna Kantor’s book, Advocacy in Physical Therapy; his chapter focuses on his active involvement on Lobby Day each year, a day in which he and other physical therapy advocates in the community speak directly to their local and state legislature to discuss the needs of the field. They focus on the hard-hitting topics—not only the barriers patients are facing, but also the limitations hindering physical therapists from providing preferred treatment. Most recently, there have been several discussions around the certification vs. licensure of a “physical therapy assistant”, as the State of New York currently has a different definition of the title in comparison to the rest of the nation. This lapse grossly affects a clinic’s ability to properly meet the demand of patients, and in turn, negatively impacts individual availability of treatment.
Jeremy Crow and other members of the Greater NY District representing NYPTA on Lobby Day – May 6th, 2019
The advocacy group is also fighting to make treatment more accessible. As is stands, it can be difficult for some patients to gain direct access to physical therapy, resulting in higher co-pays, referral requirements and overall, more expenses. Receiving physical therapy treatment first can prevent other expensive and unnecessary methods, such as surgeries and injections. Many people also notice a notable improvement with just physical therapy alone. “There have been studies that show that when patients have limited access to physical therapy, their quality of life is decreased,” Jeremy says. “They have an increase in downstream costs. This is especially true for those with lower back pain.”
The best way to help push for these changes is to support those advocating for you. There is strength in numbers; Jeremy states: “we have power as their constituents, because we’re the ones who are going to be voting for them come election time. We start talking about our clinics in Manhattan, or about our 18 locations and over 130 therapists, and they know that’s a lot of impact, and then they really take to value what we have to say. It gives us a little bit more of a bargain card.”
The people in charge of the laws need to be able to hear YOUR voice, because it matters most! The course of your treatment, and thus the improvement of your health, lies in the hands of the legislature. Your biggest allies are your physical therapists. In just a short amount of time, we’ve been able to positively affect revisions—in the last few years alone, Medicare and direct access policies have changed for the better. If we’ve been able to create that much of an impact thus far, the sky is the limit on what we can do together to change the course of healthcare in a positive manner.
If you’d like to become an advocate for physical therapy, or would like access to more resources and information, please visit the American Physical Therapy Association’s website at APTA.org, or the New York Physical Therapy Association at NYPTA.org.