December 23, 2013
A December 15 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has raised questions among some members about my role as the elected president of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and my role as the chief executive officer of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Centers for Rehab Services (CRS), which is a joint venture between UPMC and our private physical therapy practice.
The Post-Gazette article does not accurately describe the dynamic of health care delivery in Pittsburgh or beyond. For decades, health care insurers and providers across the country have created networks to meet the needs of their patients to ensure high quality, cost-conscious care. We have seen this in all settings. In Pennsylvania, networks of private physical therapy practices have organized to negotiate with insurers and they have limited their networks, as a matter of standard practice, for more than 20 years. There also are insurance plans that have preferred provider networks beyond the specific example of UPMC's health plan, which was highlighted by the Post-Gazette. Without providing this important background, the Post-Gazette article implicitly suggests that UPMC's network is unique.
The Post-Gazette article also gives the impression that I was quoted for this story. I was not. The quote attributed to me is from a letter I wrote several months ago and was taken out of context. As CEO of CRS, I am responsible for the clinical operations for CRS. I do not manage the provider network of the UPMC Health Plan. Under the UPMC health plan, physical therapy services are not exclusively limited to the UPMC/CRS facilities. Other hospital systems, skilled nursing facilities, and private physical therapy practices also participate in the UPMC health plan. I have been a long-standing member of the physical therapy community in Pittsburgh. I believe that whether a physical therapist is employed in an independent private practice or in an integrated health system, we provide critical services to help individuals regain and maintain the highest function possible to return to their homes, communities, workplaces, and families.
As the elected president of APTA, I take seriously the part I play in advancing physical therapist practice in all settings, as well as education and research. APTA is dedicated to positioning physical therapists as a solution to a health care system that is too fragmented, costly, and limited in access. The association is devoted to ensuring Americans have access to high-quality physical therapist services and has consistently advocated for direct access in every state.
APTA continues to fight to ensure that payment policies are in place to pay physical therapists an appropriate rate for the expertise, value, and care we provide. I consider it my duty, both personally and professionally, to implement and advance the policies APTA leadership and members deem important to our profession. This stewardship is one I share with my colleagues on APTA's Board of Directors. As APTA members, we share a devotion to continuously improving health care and delivering the best possible outcomes for our patients through advancing high-quality and accessible physical therapist services. Thank you for your efforts to advance our profession.
Paul A. Rockar, Jr, PT, DPT, MS
American Physical Therapy Association