Reps. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), introduced the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2019 (H.R. 3637/S. 2747). This legislation would increase opportunities for individuals who are from underrepresented backgrounds, including those from racial and ethnic minorities, in the professions of occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech language pathology, and audiology.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) are thrilled to have committed champions to a more diverse and inclusive workforce, and are working together to help advance this legislation.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). According to AOTA’s most recent Salary & Workforce Survey, occupational therapy practitioners identifying themselves as African-American or black was 3.1%, those identifying as Hispanic or Latino was 3.2%, and only 1.4% identified as multiethnic.
“According to the Institute of Medicine, patients who receive care from members of their own racial and ethnic background tend to have better outcomes. As the makeup of our nation’s population evolves, our priority is for the profession to evolve along with it. This legislation would accomplish this by providing new opportunities for individuals whose backgrounds are currently underrepresented occupational therapy,” said Wendy C. Hildenbrand, PhD, MPH, OTR/L, FAOTA, President of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). “Having a more diverse workforce improves the ability for occupational therapy professionals to better address the healthcare needs of all Americans.”
UPDATE ON 8.12.19
- The bill language from H.R. 3637 was successfully added to a larger legislative package, the Educating Medical Professionals and Optimizing Workforce Efficiency and Readiness (EMPOWER) for Health Act of 2019 (H.R. 2781), as an amendment. We support H.R. 2781 in addition to supporting H.R. 3637.
- H.R. 2781, as amended to include H.R. 3637, was voted out of committee unanimously & is currently awaiting action on the House Floor.
UPDATE ON 10.28.19
- H.R. 2781, as amended to include the language from H.R. 3637, was unanimously passed by the full House. H.R. 2781 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
- Even though the language from H.R. 3637 is included in H.R. 2781, now under consideration by the Senate, introduction of the standalone Senate version of the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act will still occur, and is expected soon.
UPDATE ON 10.30.19
- S. 2747, the companion to the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2019 was introduced in the Senate by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
It is vital our current advocacy efforts continue to focus on support for the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act (H.R. 3637/S. 2747) to show Congress there is a large base of support should this bill need to be reintroduced in the next Congress.
Please contact your legislators and ask them to co-sponsor HR 3637/S. 2747, the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act.