NCPTA and APTA Leadership Meet with State Officials on Opioid Crisis
November 6, 2017
NCPTA President Kyle Covington, Executive Director Nancy Garland, lobbyist Alex Miller, and APTA Payment Policy Specialist Alice Bell met with state officials in Raleigh on October 31 to discuss the role of Physical Therapy in the opioid crisis. Representatives from the Governor’s staff, Daryl Childers, the Attorney General’s staff, Steve Mange, Dr. Nancy Henley the State’s Chief Medical Officer and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Assistant Secretary of Legislation Ben Popkin met with the NCPTA leadership.
The purpose of the meeting was to familiarize the Governor’s staff, Attorney General’s staff and DHHS staff with the role that physical therapy can play in preventing people from needing opioids. NCPTA pointed out that “Physical Therapy is not part of the problem, but we are part of the solution”. NCPTA stated that Physical Therapy is fighting America’s opioid crisis by providing safe solutions for pain. Prescription guidelines released in 2016 recommend non-opioid approaches for the long-term treatment of most pain condition, but without key policy fixes these safe and effective alternatives will remain underused.
One of the main barriers to patients receiving physical therapy in North Carolina is the high co-pay that many patients are required to pay to receive physical therapy treatment. It was pointed out that co-pays can sometime be $50-$60 per visit. The state officials were very receptive to the message that physical therapy should be part of the solution. Covington indicated that the association wanted to help fight this crisis.
Alice Bell is the APTA representative to the National Quality Partnership Opioid Stewardship Action Team. The Action Team brings together experts and recognized leaders from the private and public sectors committed to addressing the nation’s escalating opioid epidemic. APTA is one of the few non-pharmaceutical/non-physician groups included on the Action Team.
Major Victory for Physical Therapists and Patients
Court Rules that Physical Therapists May Perform Dry Needling
For nearly two years, the NCPTA has been involved in lawsuits with the North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board to protect patients’ access to dry needling, and to ensure that our members can deliver this safe and effective treatment. Today, I am pleased to report a major court victory. Read More
In a thorough, 30-page decision, the North Carolina Business Court has ruled that physical therapists may perform dry needling. The Court's ruling affirms a decision by the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners that reached the following conclusions:
- “The scope of physical therapy under North Carolina law includes dry needling.”
- “Dry needling is distinct from acupuncture.”
- The Acupuncture Board “fails to recognize that health professions are allowed to have overlapping scope of practice.”
- “North Carolina public policy favors patient choice in health care.”
You can find a copy of the Court’s decision at this link.
The NCPTA is grateful for this victory, which marks the third time that the courts have sided with physical therapists and their patients in litigation with the Acupuncture Board.
As you may recall, the first victory was in April 2016, when the Acupuncture Board’s original lawsuit against the Physical Therapy Board and NCPTA members was dismissed right off the bat. The second victory was in January 2017, when the Court in our federal lawsuit ruled that we sufficiently alleged the Acupuncture Board and its members violated--and continue to violate--the federal antitrust laws by seeking to make dry needling unavailable to patients who benefit from it.
Despite these victories, however, the lawsuits are not yet over. The Acupuncture Board has the right to appeal the Business Court’s ruling that physical therapists may perform dry needling.
Meanwhile, the NCPTA continues to fight for our members and their patients in our federal antitrust lawsuit. Rest assured, the NCPTA is committed to that federal lawsuit for as long as it takes. I am asking you to please consider a contribution to our legal defense fund--$100, $250, $500, or even $1,000.
Even if you do not personally offer dry needling, this affects you. We owe it to our patients to stand up for their access to care. Please donate today.
Kyle Covington, PT, DPT, PhD
Another Victory for Physical Therapists and Patients
Court Rejects Acupuncture Board's Arguments (Again) in NCPTA's Antitrust Lawsuit
As you know, the NCPTA has sued the North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board in federal court. The NCPTA filed the lawsuit to protect patients' access to dry needling, and to ensure that our members can deliver this safe and effective treatment. The lawsuit, which is available at this link, seeks to hold the Acupuncture Board and its members accountable under the federal antitrust laws.
In a major development in the case, the Court ruled in January that we sufficiently alleged the Acupuncture Board and its members violated--and continue to violate--the federal antitrust laws by seeking to make dry needling unavailable to patients who benefit from it. Weeks later, however, the Acupuncture Board filed a motion asking the Court to reconsider--and undo--our January victory.
Today, I am pleased to report that the Court has rejected the Acupuncture Board's arguments once again. The Court denied the Acupuncture Board's motion for reconsideration, noting that the Acupuncture Board's "one-paragraph 'explanation' of why dry needling is not authorized by law in North Carolina is devoid of citation to any statute or case. "In other words, the Acupuncture Board's arguments lacked support.
This latest decision reaffirms January's court victory for dry needling patients and for the physical therapists who provide dry needling to those patients.
The NCTPA remains committed to protecting the rights of our members and their patients. If you would like to support these efforts as the lawsuit proceeds, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kyle Covington, PT, DPT, PhD
Advocacy Day Recap
Thanks to everyone who attended the NCPTA Advocacy Day at the legislature on April 11. We had around 200 PTs, PTAs, PT students, and PTA students in attendance – a record in recent history. Many schools were represented by both students and faculty including Duke, UNC, ECU, Methodist, Wingate, Winston- Salem State, High Point, Elon, Campbell, and Martin Community College. If we missed your school and you were in attendance, please let us know.
Please send pictures from the event to email@example.com so we can post. Please provide a descriptor of the group and legislator(s) in the picture i.e. Rep. Meyer with UNC students.
Almost every office was visited. It is events like these that send a message to the legislature that therapists around the state are involved in the legislative process and these are the issues that are important to therapists and therapy students.
But this is just the beginning of the process. Remember to write your legislator and/or their staff thanking them for taking the time to visit with you. Don’t let this be the last contact you have with you legislator. Continue to stay in touch as PT legislation moves through the legislature. NCPTA will be sending blast e-mails when action is needed. Politics is about--RELATIONSHIP, RELATIONSHIP, RELATIONSHIP--so please maintain that relationship with your legislators.
Again, thank you for taking time to participate in the NCPTA Advocacy Day and we look forward to seeing you next year.