January 1, 2013
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), its 85,000 members, and the patients we serve are pleased that Congress has passed legislation, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (HR 8) to address critical health care policies that expired at the end of 2012. The legislation, passed by the House and the Senate today, will now be sent to the president's desk for signature.
APTA supports many of the provisions in this legislation to ensure a sound economy and extend a number of policies that are important to our profession. Of note, the legislation averts the scheduled 26.5% reduction in Medicare payments under the flawed sustainable growth rate formula, extends the therapy cap exceptions process throughout 2013, and fixes the geographic practice cost index for 1 year. The legislation also provides a 2-month window for Congress to continue negotiating methods to lessen the impact of budget sequestration. This window delays additional cuts that would have impacted our profession in both payment and rehabilitation research.
Although this legislation ensures access to health care services for our nation's seniors and individuals with disabilities for another calendar year, it does not address the fundamental policy reform needed to ensure a stable, sustainable, and secure practice environment for physical therapists and other health care providers that serve the Medicare program. This jeopardizes patient access to services that improve quality of life and delays innovation in health care delivery.
Despite the passage of several critical provisions, APTA is concerned by the addition of a provision that would cut payment to physical therapists by applying an increased multiple procedure payment reduction (MPPR) to therapy services provided on the same day. This cut is unjustified, capricious, and poor public policy. Passing policies such as the MPPR on therapy services, with the sole purpose of gaining savings for other Medicare and tax policies, is concerning, and we ask Congress to re-consider this provision before its April 1, 2013, implementation.
APTA will also continue to advocate for Congress to address budget sequestration before it is implemented in March. Without action to address these scheduled cuts to critical health care programs, physical therapist researchers, educators, and clinicians will face additional payment and funding challenges within the next few months.
APTA stands ready to continue its work with Congress on meaningful policies to ensure access to essential physical therapy services, common-sense reforms to provider payments, and a more transparent, public debate on these issues as opposed to the last-minute, closed-door deal-making that results in poor public policy, such as the MPPR on therapy services.
APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS