Election Day and What That Means for Our Professions

Posted on November 3rd, 2012 by Denise | No Comments

Election Day and What That Means for Our Professions

By

Denise Koonce OTR

What an election year it has been! The debates, the commercials/ads, and the need for fact checkers can lead some to become disheartened and not believe that their vote would count.  I however believe I have seen otherwise.

I decided to utilize early voting this year because my daughter was scheduled for surgery in Baltimore a little over a week before Election Day and there is always some uncertainty regarding when we can return home.  Over the years I have not always utilized early voting but this year it was the best option.  I arrived at the early voting area on the first day of early voting about mid-morning.  To my surprise the wait to vote was already an hour long!  I couldn’t believe it.  I hoped this was a positive sign that a majority of Americans were going to vote.   My daughter and I then traveled to Baltimore for her surgery.  After surgery, I needed to make a grocery store run for more chicken noodle soup, Gatorade, and juice.  On the way to the store I ran into traffic on a neighborhood two lane road.  I couldn’t imagine what was going on.  After slowly creeping forward, I realized the cause for the delay was an early voting site.  The traffic was due to an enormous overflow of individuals trying to vote.  Now this could be voting as usual for Marylanders but it could have also been a reaction to the approaching weather.  I am speaking of Hurricane Sandy, which as you have all seen brutalized the Northeastern US.  Regardless the reason, the turnout was impressive!  I was then further impressed, after the hurricane, to hear the Maryland Governor state that they would provide continued access to early voting starting Wednesday and would increase the daily hours available and add Friday to make up the lost opportunity to early vote.  Incredible!  Amidst their adversity, they exemplified the value and importance of our right to vote. 

I thought it might be helpful to simply provide you with a brief summary of some of the items in this election year that are important to our professions and those we serve.  Some of the issues include:

     *The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and whether it will remain intact, be changed or be repealed. 

     *At a state level, there will be the determination of what benefits will be included in the essential health benefits for their state under the Affordable Care Act.  Another item that the states will decide is whether or not they will expand Medicaid services or opt out of the proposed expansion. 

     *The therapy cap extension ends this year for Medicare outpatient services.  Will Congress extend the caps or will the extension cease limiting therapy services to the Medicare population.

     *The American Occupational Therapy Association is seeking to make revisions to home healthcare law making occupational therapy a qualifying service, which would allow OTs to open and conduct home cases. 

All of these issues will directly affect how we provide services, the quality, duration and frequency, the patient population, and who will have access to our services.  Therefore issues at stake this election year will directly affect us as therapists.  As November 6th approaches, please take a few minutes to educate yourself further on the above items.  One way to further educate yourself is to utilize your national organizations websites, AOTA, APTA, ASHA and read their detailed presentations regarding the issues listed above and where the candidates’ positions are regarding these issues.  Additional useful websites are your state organizations such as TOTA, TPTA, TSHA as well as discipline specific Advance Magazine websites.  Regardless of which side of the issues you are on the most important action you can take is to make your opinion count by voting.

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