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  • The More Things Change, the More They…Change: CMS Announcements Dominate Top PT in Motion News Stories for 2018

    Looking back over 2018, it's hard to overstate the magnitude of Medicare-related changes experienced by physical therapists (PTs), physical therapist assistants (PTAs), and their patients. It was a year that included the end of the hard cap on therapy services under Medicare and the announcement of the inclusion of qualifying PTs in its Quality Payment Program starting in 2019—a dramatic shift toward value-based payment. And did we mention the launch of new requirements for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) beginning later in 2019?

    While payment news is almost always of interest to PT in Motion News readers, keeping up with the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was apparently top-of-mind in 2018, as Medicare-related stories dominated this year's list of most-read News items.

    Here's what grabbed the attention of readers in 2018:

    A permanent fix to the Medicare therapy cap was finally approved...
    In early February, Congress enacted change that ended the hard cap on therapy services under Medicare part B, putting to rest "a 20-year cycle of patient uncertainty and short-term fixes."

    …but not before the cap was applied for a few weeks.
    When 2017 ended without the usual 11th hour temporary fix in place, the therapy cap was triggered for the first weeks of 2019, throwing PTs and patients into (fortunately, short-lived) uncertainty.

    The post-therapy cap world has its own requirements.
    Instead of a hard cap, CMS began relying on the KX modifier threshold for physical therapy and speech-language pathology—and yes, the monetary limits were still combined. PT in Motion News published a list of "5 basics you need to know" about the new approach.

    SNFs need to prepare for a new payment landscape in 2019.
    CMS unveiled a proposed rule for SNFs in 2019 that replaces the Resource Utilization Groups Version IV (RUG-IV) with something new—the Patient-Driven Payment Model. This story from April breaks down the basics of the proposal.

    Even more dramatic changes to come: QPP and MIPS are on the way.
    When the proposed 2019 physician fee schedule from CMS contained what many expected was coming: the inclusion of qualifying PTs in the agency's Quality Payment Program (QPP) and its Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). This PT in Motion News story presented the basics of a major shift in payment and reporting for PTs.

    Move Forward Radio Catches a 'Big Wave' Surfing Legend

    If you're going to face down a 30-foot wall of water armed with nothing but a surfboard, you'd best be someone who's not afraid of a little danger—either that, or someone who's ready to learn from potentially injurious failure. Turns out big wave surfing champion Laird Hamilton is a little of both.

    Now on APTA's Move Forward Radio: an interview with Hamilton, who's made an international name for himself as, yes, a fearless surfer but also as an athlete who, in his own words, has survived his body being "torn, punctured, ripped, scraped, broken…you name it." It's those injuries, he says, that have enabled him to learn more about his own body and the importance of staying active, even when things aren't at 100%.

    Hamilton remembered the lessons he had learned through his surfing injuries and applied them to his preparation for—and recovery from—hip replacement surgery. In the podcast, he describes how he avoided pain medicine of any kind during the process, and how he surprised his health care team with one of the fastest recoveries they had ever seen. He also tells Move Forward Radio that he drew no small amount of inspiration from his wife, volleyball star Gabby Reece, who was featured on 2016 podcast to talk about her drug-free recovery from a total knee replacement (performed the same day as Hamilton's hip operation, by the way).

    Move Forward Radio is archived at MoveForwardPT.com, APTA's official consumer information website, and can be streamed online or downloaded as a podcast via iTunes.

    CoHSTAR Announces Fellowship Opportunities; Applications Due by February 15

    The Center on Health Services Training and Research (CoHSTAR) has opened its latest call for fellowship applicants for 4 research opportunities. All fellowships have a February 15, 2019, application deadline. The positions are:

    • Full-time postdoctoral fellowships: Trainees may focus their activities on a unique research focus area or craft an individual experience that involves activities at 2 or 3 collaborating sites.
    • Part-time faculty fellowship: Faculty fellows will retain their faculty appointments at their home institutions while using CoHSTAR support to maximize their protected time for research activities.
    • Part-time faculty fellowship at naviHealth: The selected faculty fellow will retain her or his faculty appointment at a home institution while using CoHSTAR support to maximize protected time to engage in research activities as a naviHealth faculty fellow. NaviHealth is a care transitions and postacute care management company serving both payer and provider marketplaces.
    • Postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center: This 2-year postdoctoral fellowship will support an analysis of registry and trial data, particularly data related to spine surgery and associated outcomes. The fellowship is funded jointly with Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.

    CoHSTAR was established with a grant of $2.5 million from the Foundation for Physical Therapy. Funding for this initiative was made possible with a $1 million gift from APTA, gifts from 50 APTA components, and donations from physical therapists, foundations, and corporations with a shared passion for the field of physical therapy.