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The healthcare reform in the United States of America has raised several concerns for the ordinary Americans especially on the accessibility and affordability of healthcare. However, one needs to look at the three main subjects who are the essential part of the bill. There are patients, healthcare providers and the insurers. Over the past years, the piece for insurers and their benefits have outgrown at the expense of the providers and the users (Nather, 2010). In the healthcare reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), is set to change everything in the sphere of healthcare (Emanuel, 2010). This bill will be of great benefit to the patients, healthcare practitioners, and the insurers. In general, the reform has several provisions for occupational therapy practice and the practitioners.
The benefits and costs of this reform will be equally distributed to all the shareholders. It is equally important to note that, the all individuals who need these services will benefit. For example, the Therapy Cap Exceptions Process has been re-introduced, and fully funded by the federal government (American Occupational Therapists Association, 2008). This means that, in this process, there will be a one-year extension of Medicare provision, especially in the Outpatient Part B Therapy. This process allows all beneficiaries of Medicare the ability to access services that are a medical necessity even when they surpass the cap of $1860 as per the 2010 requirements. There will also be an additional cap on language and speech pathology services and all forms of physical therapy. Although the congress comprehends all the policies surrounding the cap's error, the only problem remaining is that of keeping the commitment and working hard to get the money to finance the Therapy Cap Exceptions Process. This process was put into action when the healthcare reform debate was in progress.
The other provision of this reform is that there will be a certain inclusion of "habilitation and rehabilitation" services in the most crucial package of health benefits. This package will be in offer and it will be easily obtainable for interested persons. This is a very big gain over the existing insurance lingo that denies habilitation services to children with several disabilities and impairments. Although there was no precise professional services that were laid out in the bill, this bill assures everyone that there will be recognition of occupational therapy. In addition to that, 32 million people will be newly insured and they will get immediate coverage but, under the provisions of the new law. AOTA (American Occupational Therapist Association) was aggressively involved in making this inclusion in the health care reform. This means that, through AOTA, the views of occupational therapists were presented to the congress. In the light of occupational therapy practice, many people will have the opportunity to access their services. In the past healthcare bill, there was much discrimination as to who is eligible to access healthcare services. Patients were discriminated against based on their pre-existing circumstances and health status (American Occupational Therapists Association, 2008).
Occupational therapists will be positioned in schools for children with disabilities in a bid to bridge service provision between schools and the community. This is bound to bring more challenges to occupational therapists. Many people especially service providers will want to step in and offer their services at very low rates in comparison to occupational therapists. This may create a problem for patients with disabilities in nursing homes. However, the AOTA body will ensure that the people who are in need of these services get them from professionally certified therapists or their assistants. The reforms in healthcare have specific provisions for licensing. All therapists are registered and as a body that governs all occupational therapists, they will have a keen eye on who practices without license. This will run the unqualified and unlicensed professions out of the business of service provision.
Over a long time, only the devices and the drugs offred to patients have been successfully appraised. Under the new law, the quality and the kind of healthcare intervention will be appraised. It is important to note that, under the new health reform, the treatment, and effectiveness of service provided by the therapist will have to be evaluated. This will help both patient and service provider to know if they are delivering their best and at the same time meeting the patients needs (Reid, 2009). The service appraisal will form a basis on which the rest of the service providers will be appraised. Occupational therapy will be given an important uplift since it will be seen as a very important component of the healthcare system. The American people will be given services from a very different context. The services will have to include their emotions, social life, medical, and their total physical needs. In general, occupational therapy will add to the quality of life that most Americans live.
Occupational therapists will have a boon under the healthcare reform. One of the major goals of this reform is to make sure that more people have access to healthcare. In the past legislation, the number of insurers was so high and they took the majority of healthcare funds while the therapists were over-worked with limited benefits. Few people could afford what the old bill could offer because it was quite unaffordable. Annually, about 32 million people are set to join the healthcare cover under the new reform. This means that many people will afford healthcare and the occupational therapists will reap more. This means that this bill sets to increase the opportunities for occupational therapists. Under these reforms, various provider groups like the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), and the Mental Health Liaison Group among others will guarantee access of therapy to their clients. This bill also ensures that the clients of therapist are not financially overexploited (American Occupational Therapists Association, 2008).
This reform will also allow occupational therapists to have access to specific work force terms. All practitioners will be more recognized than before. They will be allowed to go for education grants, new training, and programs, which will be developed by the government. This means that they will be more involved in addressing any future issues concerning the healthcare workforce. In the new reform, it is proposed that, occupational therapy practitioners will also be able to have directly access patients in remote areas with or without the prescription of a physician. Currently, a study is going on to see how this can be implemented. In terms of payment and licensure, the reformed bill guarantees the issuance and renewal of licenses to practitioners. It also eliminates the resizing of benefit with the exceptions of participation in misrepresentation or fraud. The yearly and lifetime caps on health benefits will also be removed implying that patient accessibility to healthcare will be lengthened.
The reformed bill recognizes the contribution of the occupational therapy practitioners to primary healthcare. They promote health, play a very big role in curbing injuries, and address issues involved in occupational performance in various populations. The new bill puts them in a good position to address the public on how they can be healthy through promotion of exercises and addressing issues concerning food. This will lead to the elimination of disabilities that are either brought by physical inactivity and poor diet or those that are made worse by the same. Occupational practitioners will work hand in hand with the body AOTA to ensure that individuals and groups of persons are able to access occupational therapy (Yamkovenko, 2010). It is easy to assume that the bill enlightens all people after it has been passed but that is not the case. There are those who are yet to know the provisions of the new bill, fear to seek therapy because they still think that healthcare is unaffordable.
This act will also allow occupational therapists to engage in change management procedures in healthcare (Emanuel, 2010). They will also have a voice on how quality of therapy can be improved more especially in terms of finance, accessibility, and the provision of human resource. Because they play a big role in therapy provision, they will be in a better position to spearhead research for various groups and individuals either in habilitation and rehabilitation centers.
In conclusion, as much as the healthcare bill is being championed as a "loser" to the public, people need to read and understand its practicality. Lawrence & Theda (2010) argue that this bill will be of benefit to all stakeholders. Licensed occupational therapists need to help the American public to live more healthy and quality lives. This bill is very inclusive takes into account those in habilitation and do not work more especially children living several disabilities. This bill also caters for therapy for those who may lose their jobs and this is one fact that makes it cater for the tough economic times when the paycheck is uncertain. In addition to that, occupational therapy practitioners and other service providers stand a very high chance of getting more benefits just like the users. This reform is set to create a balance between the insurers, users, and service providers. In the old law, insurers' benefits were ever expanding as those of the users and the providers shrunk. Under the new, reform, ever party will its fair share!