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  • APTA, PPS, AIM Release Statements on AARP Letter Opposing Physician Self-Referrals

    APTA, the Private Practice Section (PPS), and a coalition of other professional groups focused on transforming health care by putting an end to self-referral loopholes under Medicare are applauding a recent show of support from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

    Last week, AARP Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Joyce Rogers voiced the organization's agreement with efforts to eliminate 4 services from the in-office ancillary services (IOAS) exception in the Stark law originally passed to tighten up restrictions on self-referrals. The support came in a letter to Rep Jackie Speier (.pdf), who is sponsoring the Protecting Integrity in Medicare Act (PIMA) (H.R. 2914). The legislation seeks to close up loopholes that allow physicians to refer patients for certain services—including physical therapy—to a business that has a financial relationship with the referring provider.

    "AARP agrees that restrictions on physician self-referral and provider-kickback schemes must be strengthened," Rogers wrote. "Closing the [IOAS] exception for certain services will save taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries money and reduce unnecessary care."

    In separate news releases, both APTA and the Alliance for Integrity in Medicare (AIM) congratulated AARP on its decision to speak out on the IOAS exception.

    "AIM applauds AARP for defending patients who are at risk of receiving unnecessary care caused by the abusive, profit-motivated practices exploiting the [IOAS] exception," AIM stated in its release. "Patients should not have to question whether financial incentives are driving their physician's treatment recommendations."

    APTA is a founding member of AIM, which also includes medical specialty, laboratory, radiation oncology, and medical imaging groups.

    In a joint statement APTA and PPS characterized the AARP letter as a "bold move" that supports an effort to "save the country billions in unnecessary treatments and protect patients from being used as pawns for profit."

    "APTA continues to urge Congress to take action to close this loophole, which threatens the integrity of the Medicare program," said APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, in the release. "It is time for Congress to pass [PIMA]."

    PPS, which has been partnering with APTA in its advocacy efforts, sees the AARP announcement as a "huge win for health care," according to PPS President Terry Brown, PT, DPT. With support such as AARP's, changes could be made to the IOAS exception that "would shift the focus in health care from profit and put it back on the patient," he said.

    Find out more about this issue on APTA's self-referral webpage, and take action now by asking your legislators to close the self-referral loophole. Contact the APTA advocacy staff for more information.

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