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Bill Promoting Patient Access to Physical Therapy Introduced February 14, 2013

Legislation reintroduced in February protects patients from random limits on physical therapy services for people after they’ve suffered stroke, traumatic brain injury or hip fracture. The legislation also addresses the effective management of conditions, including Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis and arthritis, according to a Feb. 14 press release by the American Physical Therapy Association, an organization which has fought to repeal caps on therapy.

The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act introduced in the US House of Representatives by Reps Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Xavier Becerra (D-CA), and in the US Senate by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) would permanently repeal the $1,900 therapy “cap” imposed on physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services, according to the American Physical Therapy Association.

“An arbitrary therapy cap on outpatient services without regard to clinical appropriateness of care discriminates against the most vulnerable of Medicare beneficiaries,” says Gerlach. “In addition, these caps shift costs, delay care, and reduce an individual’s ability to remain independent in his or her home and community. So I look forward to working with my colleagues on enacting this common sense legislation to ensure seniors continue to have access to the care they need and deserve.”

The therapy cap was created as a part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. It places an annual financial limit on payment for outpatient therapy services under Medicare Part B. Physical therapy and speech language pathology services are under a combined cap, and another cap is applied to occupational therapy. The cap was a cost-cutting measure—not based on scientific evidence or clinical judgment, according to the American Physical Therapy Association.

The American Physical Therapy Association is calling on Congress to address permanent repeal of the therapy cap.

“Rehabilitation therapies are critical to helping millions of Americans recover from injuries and debilitating illnesses,” says Cardin. “We should be helping seniors get the therapy they need so they can resume their normal lives, not putting up road blocks to their recoveries. Year after year, Congress has shown its disapproval for these arbitrary therapy caps with short term fixes. Now, with this legislation, we have an opportunity to eliminate them permanently.”

For more about what physical therapy can do for people who have had stroke, traumatic brain injury, hip fracture, as well as those with arthritis or Parkinson disease, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

A Physical Therapist, Inc., is a one-on-one physical therapy clinic in Delray Beach, Fla., and Harrisburg, Penn. For patients in Palm Beach County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Boca Raton or Boynton Beach. For patients in Dauphin County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Hershey and Marysville.

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