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  • Bill to End SGR Lacks Language on Therapy Cap

    A bipartisan, bicameral proposal unveiled on February 6 would end Medicare’s flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, but it does not contain any language around the therapy cap. APTA's advocacy team is now encouraging grassroots efforts to turn legislators' attention to extenders such as the therapy cap for inclusion in the final bill.

    The SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act (HR 4015) would permanently repeal the SGR and provide annual increases of 0.5% from 2014 through 2018. For the next 5 years after 2018, rates would remain unchanged, but providers could receive additional payments through a quality incentive system. The agreement is the product of the Senate Finance, House Ways and Means, and House Energy and Commerce committees.

    Still lacking from the agreement, however, is any mention of repeal of the outpatient Medicare therapy cap—something included in the Senate committee's original version of the legislation. If Congress passes legislation permanently addressing the SGR formula but does not include a repeal of the Medicare therapy cap, patients could face a hard cap on outpatient therapy services after the current therapy cap exceptions extension expires on March 31.

    “Congress has indicated it will now turn its attention to which Medicare extenders to include in the legislation, so it is imperative that APTA members use APTA’s advocacy resources in favor of repealing the cap," said Justin Moore, PT, DPT, vice president of public policy, practice, and professional affairs for APTA.

    The APTA advocacy team has issued an action alert calling for members and supporters to urge their legislators to include a repeal of the therapy cap in the final bill, and members interested in the latest news on the SGR and therapy cap reform can now download a new "Heard On The Hill" podcast that provides more details about the proposal. APTA members can take action via the Legislative Action Center and nonmembers and the public can take action via the Patient Action Center.

    APTA will continue to work the members of Congress to ensure the final reform package includes policies that reflect the interests of physical therapists 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.

    Editor's note: This story was updated at 3 pm ET (February 10) to correct a typo in Justin Moore's quote. News Now regrets the error.

    Committee Call Closing February 11

    Some very special opportunities for professional growth and leadership are available, but not for long: APTA will close its call for committee volunteers at midnight on February 11.

    There's still time to respond to the call by completing a volunteer interest profile found on the Volunteer Interest Pool webpage. Once you create your profile, you can apply to serve on the specific committees that interest you.

    The deadline is February 11. Complete details on all committees can be found on APTA's Volunteer Groups webpage.

    ICF Accepting Suggestions for Changes

    The current version of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is now open for suggested updates and corrections, and physical therapists (PTs) can get involved.

    Produced by the World Health Organization (WHO), the ICF was endorsed by the APTA House of Delegates in 2008, and the association's upcoming third edition of the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice will use the ICF framework. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' functional limitations reporting is based on the ICF components.

    Anyone interested in suggesting a change or reviewing proposals can access the information by way of a free registration at the ICF website. The system also allows users to comment on posts from others.

    User suggestions have been a part of the ICF update process for several years. The updates for 2013 have been published and are available online.

    A draft of a manual on how to use the ICF (.pdf) is available for download at the WHO website.