Physical therapists were among the health care provider groups whose representatives testified before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Sept. 21, hoping to extend Medicare reimbursement provisions set to expire successively beginning Oct. 1 and continue through July 2012. There are nine reimbursement policies said to address the particular needs of patients and providers that would be affected if the policies fail to renew, which include skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals among others.

Of concern to the rehabilitation community is risk Congress will cut off the exceptions process to the therapy cap beginning Dec. 31. Without the exceptions policy, many patients as Medicare beneficiaries are limited to $1,870 in therapy services per beneficiary per year, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech theapy. Congress is reported to have extended the cap five times thus far.

Representatives explained to the subcommittee failure to extend the policies would inhibit the ability of providers to serve patients. Justin Moore, PT, DPT, (pictured at right) vice president for government and payment advocacy of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), reportedly testified the therapy cap would be exceeded by 640,000 Medicare beneficiaries by Dec. 31 should the exceptions process fail to renew. Moore urged the legislators to phase out the process of granting yearly extensions and move toward a reformed payment system based on per visit claims by 2015.

Source: Bureau of National Affairs, American Physical Therapy Association