I know that what I have to say here will probably be controversial and possibly misconstrued by some, but I am just too nettled to keep quiet any longer. I love our profession of occupational therapy as much as anyone, I have been a dues-paying member of AOTA for 38+ years, and I just have to say this.
I’m getting tired of our continual self-promotion, especially when it’s not balanced with advocacy and political action on behalf of those we serve.
AOTA cheers us on to promote occupational therapy and the laws that increase our access to payment, but says nothing about the huge elephant in the room- the attempts being made by our current administration in Washington to take us back to small or no public funding for health care. For sure it’s AOTA’s mission to promote OT, but I think that being totally OT-centric is out of line at this time.
I just opened up the August SIS Quarterly Practice Connections from AOTA, and saw an article on “What Can I Do To Highlight Occupational Therapy?” to members of Congress. I’ve received many of these articles over the years, and even participated in meeting with political aides on Capitol Hill to inform them about our issues. I love to talk up my beloved profession (and often do- just ask my poor family), but right now evangelizing only for OT seems self-serving when the entire system of shared funding for health care is under siege.
I also continue to receive pleas to contact my representatives to end the therapy cap for Medicare funded rehabilitation services. Again, this is a worthy cause, but it bothers me that AOTA seems so preoccupied with only those issues that involve OT job stability and income. Of course I support these things, but it feels like we’re trying to water the garden as the house is burning.
The recent Republican effort to abruptly kill off the Affordable Care Act has failed, but there remain ongoing efforts to systematically cut essential funds for key features of the ACA, thereby “proving” its unsustainability. Medicaid is likewise at risk of active starvation. The danger will be present and continuous until we have a very different philosophy in the White House and Congress.
Please let’s speak out, write about, and in every way possible advocate quality health care for all. Health care that includes occupational therapy services, as well as all of the other health and social services that people must have to be well. Our voices are effective, as has been shown in the past six months, but they must be activated in order to work.
There, I feel better now. The bee in my bonnet has ceased buzzing for just a moment. Thanks for reading.