THERAPY 2000 descended on the Texas capitol Wednesday, February 20th to rally for pediatric in-home healthcare. Kicking off the 83rd Texas Legislative session, over 100 therapists and staff from different in-home pediatric therapy companies across Texas joined together to advocate for their industry. The goal was to ensure that children of Texas with developmental delays and disabilities continue to get access to this much needed Medicaid covered care. Over 40 THERAPY 2000 therapists and staff joined the cause from the Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Houston and East Texas regions of the state.
The Dallas area T2K advocates got on a bus at the corporate office at 5:45 AM, bright and early, to make it to a 9 AM pep rally held at the capitol. This motivational meeting was meant to brief therapists and home health advocates on important talking points to share in their scheduled meetings. This included how to best relay personal stories about their patients proving exactly how their industry betters the lives of the children they treat.
Representative John Zerwas, M.D., voted one of the “Ten Best Legislators” by Texas Monthly for his work during the 81st and 82nd legislative sessions was one of the speakers. Zerwas has been recognized by the Texas Medical Association as a “Friend of Medicine” and Texas Hospital Association as a “Texas Hospital Advocate” for his commitment to healthcare for Texans. He represents the citizens of House District 28 and serves on the House Appropriations Committee as Chair of the Health and Human Services. His perspective coming from being a representative and medical doctor were invaluable in teaching the advocates how to effectively relate to the politicians and their staff the importance of pediatric in-home therapy. To sum it up he said, “(You) make a huge difference to the quality of life that they have. That’s the message that you need to share with your lawmakers.” Jerre van den Bent president of THERAPY 2000, Jennifer Riley of THERAPY 2000 and David Reimer, executive director of KidsCare Therapy also spoke at the pep rally.
Pumped after the motivating and informational rally, the advocates were ready to meet and speak with their local legislative and office staff. The message they delivered was that home therapy is often the most cost-effective way to deliver therapy services and cutting these payments would lead to less quality of care in the long run. If cut, cost of care will actually rise as many of the patients will end up in hospitals or rehab centers instead of receiving cost-effective pediatric physical, occupational or speech therapy at home. Advocates also stressed the importance of standardized measures to determine when services are medically necessary making it less of a guessing game for parents and therapists as to what treatments will be covered. Representative John Zerwas, M.D., shared this, “Most lawmakers are not going to really understand what you do, but what they do understand is the money. That is what they are up here to look out for … and when they suggest that a cut to your fees be made, they need to understand the consequences of that.” Therapists also shared in their meetings the touching stories of the patients they help on a daily basis and how their services are an important element in improving children’s lives.
After visiting the offices of many reps and senators the THERAPY 200 crew got back on the bus and headed north up I 35 towards Dallas. Everyone agreed that the group advocating was worth all the work. Megan Shull, SLP, CCC, of THERAPY 2000 shared her thoughts on the day, “Everyone was abuzz. I definitely think it was impactful on the legislature for our staff to bring our perspective to the table. We raised awareness in our community of the importance of in-home pediatric home health care.”