Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Increase Access to Physical Therapy

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MI) recently introduced legislation to increase access to physical therapy services by bringing more health care professionals to rural areas. The bipartisan bill, titled The Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act of 2021, was previously introduced in both the House and Senate in 2019.

If passed, this bill would create important incentives for more medical professionals to enter the specialty by allowing physical therapists to participate in the National Health Service Corps student loan repayment program. Participating therapists would be eligible to receive up to $50,000 for loan repayment if they commit to serve in a medically underserved or designated health care professional shortage area for two years. By ensuring the availability to physical therapy professionals in these markets, Congress can expand access to care in rural and high-need areas.

This effort is particularly important because the United States is currently in the middle of a national shortage of physical therapists and physical therapy professionals. Estimates show that by 2025, an additional 27,000 PTs will be needed to meet demand.

APTQI applauds Senators Tester and Wicker for their leadership, and we urge Congress to pass this bipartisan, commonsense bill quickly.