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Wednesday, March 27, 2013RSS Feed

Working Together in Challenging Times

The physical therapy profession is facing additional cuts to Medicare payment for services starting April 1.

Dating back to last year, APTA has provided crucial information about these upcoming cuts in all-member e-mails, News Now articles, social media messages, and via the APTA.org homepage. Still, we know that some physical therapists are unaware of what's ahead.

That's why I'm urging you to share this information with your colleagues, which can be as simple as forwarding the link to this blog post.

These cuts will impact physical therapists financially and may affect the access to care our patients receive. Additionally, as health care providers continue to bear the brunt of payment reductions, there is also an emotional toll to these changes, and it's important that we support one another in these challenging times.

I've talked with many physical therapists from across the country, and I know that these challenges are real. I see and feel it in my own practice as we work as a management team to continue to provide the patient care needed by so many with resources that continue to shrink. It is becoming more and more evident that from a financial and reimbursement aspect we are facing a "new normal" that is often hard to understand.

Those familiar with our national advocacy efforts know that APTA works year-round to protect payment for physical therapy services - advocating intensely to repeal the therapy cap and to prevent the MPPR and other cuts from going into effect. Unfortunately, despite successes in many legislative and regulatory areas, physical therapists are not immune to the repeated changes affecting all Medicare providers.

Although APTA alone cannot change the course of sequestration, the association will continue to look for opportunities to fight the MPPR cuts. However, with or without congressional action on these items, these challenges necessitate our consideration of payment reform. It is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot sustain the current payment system - not for ourselves, and not for our patients.

That's why APTA is developing an alternative payment system - the physical therapy classification and payment system (PTCPS) - for outpatient services. The need for reform is clear, and we want the opportunity to help shape payment reform to reward the clinical expertise physical therapists bring to the health care system, rather than having payment reform imposed on us.

Payment in the future will be based on data that demonstrates value, patient engagement, and quality outcomes. The proposed PTCPS embraces that model with the goal of not just improving payment but also quality of care.

No proposed system will be perfect, and while many have embraced this change, other physical therapists have expressed their concern. But with the challenges facing payment in health care, change is essential.

I encourage you to read about APTA's alternative payment system, PTCPS, and consider its impact for the future. But more importantly I urge you to spend 5 minutes sharing the resources at APTA.org with your colleagues to prepare for these challenges in our present.


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