(To support the bill: Add your info to this pre-written letter from the APTA and hit send.)
A growing body of research shows that physical therapy can help postpartum individuals heal and recover, but that’s far from common knowledge. As it stands today, most birthing people never hear the words “pelvic floor” from anyone involved in their maternal care — and only the most informed OBGYNs and primary care physicians refer to pelvic floor PT for symptoms like incontinence, pelvic pain, or pelvic organ prolapse.
For those postpartum patients who are referred to pelvic floor PT, finding convenient and affordable care is yet another barrier, especially for the 42% of birthing people who rely on Medicaid coverage throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
The big news: A just-introduced bill highlights the lack of pelvic health care for postpartum individuals and, if made into law, would lead to systemic change.
Last month, sponsors Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del) introduced the Optimizing Postpartum Outcomes Act (H.R. 8181) to the House of Representatives.
If H.R. 8181 becomes a law…
- The Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services would issue guidance on how states can best cover postpartum pelvic floor physical therapy for patients on Medicaid.
- The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would issue guidance on best practices, referrals, financing options, pelvic floor dysfunction screenings, diagnostic codes, and more.
- Health professionals would be trained on the importance of pelvic health and pelvic floor physical therapy
- Patients would be provided with education on pelvic health symptoms and treatment options
The bill was drafted with the help of the American Association of Physical Therapists’ Pre-Natal & 4th Trimester Task Force. “H.R. 8181 is an excellent opportunity to educate and advocate for all patients through their pregnancy and recovery journey, and a way to help communities and health providers better understand the role of pelvic health physical therapy," said Task Force Lead Gail Zitterkopf, PT, DPT, in a statement from the APTA.
Like any bill introduced to the House, it will be assigned to a committee responsible for deciding if it should be brought to the floor for a vote. If passed in the House, the bill would move to the Senate and wait on another committee review — so there’s a long road ahead.
But even the existence of this bill is a reason to celebrate. It makes a clear and indisputable statement: Pelvic floor PT is essential care for postpartum individuals.
Without support from other members of the house, H.R. 8181 could easily fall by the wayside. Taking action to prevent that from happening is easy: Add your name, mailing address, and email to this pre-written letter from the APTA and hit send. In 1 minute or less, you can join us in letting legislators know that the current healthcare system is failing postpartum individuals and the time for change is now.