Healthcare Insider Blog

Effects of the Affordable Care Act on the future of Doctors of Physical Therapy

  • Healthcare Alvernia

This March will mark the six year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passing both houses of Congress and being signed into law by President Obama.

What does the passage of this bill mean for those working in physical therapy or those students currently enrolled in a DPT program? Simply put, it means an increase in demand.

In a recent Alvernia post, we discussed that because of the ACA, there are now between eight million and 11 million people who have access to health care who did not previously.

Within the ACA, there are 10 essential health benefits covered, one of which being “rehabilitative services and devices”. This benefits patients who are recovering from an injury or have a disability or chronic condition, providing patients 30 visits each year to a physical therapist or occupational therapist.

As patient numbers increase, so has the demand for more physical therapists in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs in physical therapy to grow by 34 percent, much faster than average, by the year 2024.

Alvernia DPT program students The future looks promising for those current and future students enrolled in Alvernia’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, since Pennsylvania is among the states most affected by this rise in employment. According to a 2014 BLS report, Pennsylvania has the fifth highest employment rate for physical therapists in the United States.

Furthermore, the Philadelphia area is ranked as the fifth highest among metropolitan regions in the country, with surrounding areas in eastern PA not far behind. Therefore, in terms of access to internship and job availability, those pursuing their DPT in areas like Lancaster, Reading and other areas of Berks County are in a prime location.

It may be too soon to measure all of the implications that the ACA has and will have on the health care industry, but one outcome we can know is that the demand for physical therapists, in Pennsylvania specifically, has increased.

Students pursing their doctor of physical therapy degree who have an interest in public policy such a the ACA or other current issues in health care can take Alvernia’s course, DPT 604: Health Care Policy and Issues in Physical Therapy. In this course, students explore cases related to the ethical and legal dimensions of health care as well as current legislation and how it relates to the practice of physical therapy.

Effective November 12, 2014, Alvernia University has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314; phone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org). Candidacy is not an accreditation status nor does it assure eventual accreditation. Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates the program is progressing toward accreditation.

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