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  • End to Therapy Cap Still on the Table

    Though the legislative process is far from over, a possible end to the therapy cap is still very much in play now that Congress has reconvened.

    This week, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing focused on Medicare extenders, including the therapy cap that places an annual financial limit on outpatient therapy. The good news: several members of the committee voiced support for an end to the cap being included with a bill to permanently end the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR), with Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Vice Chairman Rep Michael C. Burgess (R-TX) stating flatly that the therapy cap "made no sense when it was first passed several years ago, and guess what? It still makes no sense." A video of the hearing, beginning with comments from Rep Burgess, is available on YouTube.

    In December 2013, Congress voted for a 3-month SGR "patch" and an extension of the therapy cap exceptions process to give legislators time to work out the details of a proposal that could permanently end both. While proposals to end the SGR are included in both Senate and House versions of the legislation, provisions to permanently reform the Medicare extenders are included only in the Senate bill. APTA has created a webpage that explains the SGR reform proposals on the table. Because these issues are still awaiting final votes, grassroots efforts need to continue.

    APTA staff is monitoring the progress of these issues on Capitol Hill and evaluating how APTA members and supporters can most effectively make their voices heard as the discussions evolve. In the meantime, APTA encourages members to visit the Legislative Action Center to stay engaged.

    APTA will continue to work members of Congress to ensure the final reform package includes policies that reflect the interests of physical therapists and physical therapists assistants, and the patients and clients we serve. Members interested in joining APTA's advocacy efforts to reform SGR and repeal the therapy cap can sign up for PTeam.

    Are You An Innovator? Funding, Support May Be Available

    APTA members who are taking new approaches to models of care now have an opportunity to receive funding and mentoring through a new program offered by the association, but submission deadlines are soon.

    APTA's Innovation 2.0 program will offer up to $150,000 to support innovation in service delivery and payment in a wide range of areas from the integration of physical therapy into collaborative care models to management ofpatients and clients that focuses on reducing hospital readmissions. The complete list of proposal areas can be found on APTA's Innovation 2.0 webpage.

    Interested candidates begin by submitting a letter of intent to APTA Innovation 2.0 staff by January 20. The letter should include contact information for the project leader, name of the organization, and a brief description of the model. The formal call for proposals will begin January 17 with a February 13 deadline.

    Successful recipients will attend a workshop May 8-9 to discuss their projects and receive feedback from researchers and other clinicians. Finalists will receive funding and in-kind services from APTA to pursue the projects.

    Innovation 2.0 builds on the success of APTA's 2013 Innovation Summit, a groundbreaking event that brought together physical therapists, physicians, large health systems, and policy makers to discuss the current and future role of physical therapy in integrated models of care.

    Questions? Need more details? Contact the Innovation 2.0 staff.

    Only 25% of US Youth Meet Daily Exercise Goal

    Despite a 4-year-old national initiative to encourage at least 1 hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day, only about a quarter of US youth are actually meeting that goal. The findings were part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report (.pdf) that examined activity patterns in 2012.

    The study used self-reported data on youth aged 12-15 to get a picture of activity rates broken down by sex, weight status, and type of activities. Among the findings:

    • Though 24.8% of youth reported daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, 60.2% of males and 49.4% of females reported engaging in this level of activity at least 5 days a week.
    • Small percentages of youth reported engaging in no physical activity on any day of the week—6.4% for males, and 8.7% for females.
    • Researchers defined the gap in every-day activity rates among males (27%) and females (22.5%) as "not a statistically significant difference."
    • Among males, normal-weight and overweight boys engaged equally in every-day activity (29.5%), but the rate dropped off for obese boys (18%). Among females, the rates did not differ as dramatically, with 24.1% of normal-weight girls, 20.1% of overweight girls, and 19.5% of obese girls reporting daily moderate-to-vigorous activity.
    • The most popular activities for males were basketball (48%), running (33.5%), and football (27.4%); females' top activities were running (34.9%), walking (27.6%), and basketball (21.4%).

    Check out the article in the November 2013 issue of PT in Motion (free to APTA members) for an overview of how physical therapists and physical therapist assistants are working to increase rates of activity in youth.