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  • Therapy Cap Repeal Legislation Introduced in House and Senate

    Today, members of Congress reintroduced identical bills in the House and Senate that would permanently repeal the cap on outpatient physical therapy services. Sens Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Senate's measure. The House legislation is sponsored by Reps Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Xavier Becerra (D-CA). 

    With discussion on permanent reform of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) ramping up, Congress also must address long-term repeal of the therapy cap, an arbitrary limit on services that often are medically necessary for patients. Both flawed policies were created in 1997 as part of the Balanced Budget Act and should be repealed this year. Given the opportunity to act on both SGR and the therapy cap, this should be the last time cap repeal legislation should need to be introduced, says APTA.  

    Access to physical therapist services has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support, with approximately 200 members of Congress supporting therapy cap repeal legislation every congressional session.

    If Congress does not act on legislation by December 31, the 2-tier exceptions process that was extended through 2013 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (HR 8), will expire.

    Read comments from the bills' sponsors in APTA's press release

    Rehabilitation Researchers Advocate on Capitol Hill

    APTA's Section on Research hosted a fly-in February 12-13 in Washington, DC, to advocate on behalf of rehabilitation research and to push for a delay in potential sequestration cuts to programs within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    Eleven researchers from 9 states spent the day meeting with staff of the Senate and House appropriations committees and their individual members of Congress to discuss the value and impact of innovative multidisciplinary research to the overall US economy and its ability to remain globally competitive in the future. The researchers strongly urged Congress to continue funding agencies that support rehabilitation research within NIH, in light of 5%-7% sequestration cuts set to take effect on March 1.  

    In addition, the researchers informed members and their staff about the key findings of the Blue Ribbon Panel Report on Medical Rehabilitation. The researchers received positive feedback from Appropriations Committee members on the panel's recommendation to enhance the role and exposure of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) within NIH.

     February 14, 2013 News Now Article 
    Rep Rodney Alexander (R-LA), far left, with members of APTA's Section on Research. Alexander spoke at a breakfast held for the fly-in participants.  

    Klonowski Calls SOTU a 'Unique Experience'

    "It was an honor and a privilege," Mike Klonowski, PT, DPT, PCS, said Wednesday morning reflecting on his attendance at the State of the Union (SOTU) address Tuesday night.  

    Klonowski attended the SOTU address as an invited guest of Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL). He was the senator's primary physical therapist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago following a stroke in January 2012 that paralyzed the left side of Kirk's body.  

    Being among so many of the nation's leaders—those on the floor of the House of Representatives and in the House gallery—was a "unique experience," Klonowski said.  

    Certain parts of the address were well received by all attendees. In particular, the audience came together to cheer the president's call for advancements in education, particularly in science and math. "We have seen how clinical research can improve care and patient outcomes on RIC’s new recovery unit and AbilityLab, where Sen Kirk was treated. Embracing science and innovation is how we lead the world into the future," said Klonowski.     

    Before the address, Klonowski visited with Kirk in his office. "He's not shying away from his stroke recovery," said Klonowski, noting the odds the senator has overcome and how his spirit and drive have allowed him to return to a high level of function. "He's more and more like himself."

    "All the hard work Mark did in rehab is paying off," Klonowski said. "He returned to work better prepared [to take on his role in the Senate]." 

    New in the Literature: Rehabilitation in Home Care (Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 Feb 2. [Epub ahead of print])

    Long-stay home care clients who receive rehabilitation have improved outcomes and lower utilization of costly health services, say authors of an article published online in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The findings suggest that investment in physical therapy and occupational therapy services for relatively short periods may provide savings to the health care system over the longer term, they add.

    This observational study conducted in home care programs in Ontario, Canada, included 99,764 home care clients with musculoskeletal disorders who received a baseline screening using the Resident AssessmentInstrument for Home Care, 1 follow-up assessment, and had discharge or death records between 2003 and 2008.

    The effects of physical therapy and occupational therapy services on transitions in function state, discharge from home care with service plans complete, institutionalization, and death were assessed using multistate Markov models.

    Home care clients with deficiencies in instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and/or activities of daily living at baseline and who received home-based rehabilitation had significantly increased odds of showing functional improvements by their next assessment (for a state 3 → 2 transition OR = 1.17; for a state 2 → 1 transition OR = 1.36). Receipt of physical therapy or occupational therapy also significantly reduced the odds of mortality and institutionalization in this group.

    With increasing numbers of older adults with chronic conditions and limited funding for health care services, it is essential to provide the right services at the right time in a cost-effective manner, the authors add. 

    Donald Jackson, PT, Elected President of Hastings College

    APTA member Donald Jackson, PT, was elected the 16th president of Hastings College on February 4. Located in Hastings, Nebraska, the college was founded in 1882 and has been named a "best" college by numerous publications.

    Jackson joined the college administration in the fall of 2012 after serving more than 21 years as the chief operating officer of Easter Seals. Previously, he founded and directed the expansion of Rehabilitation Systems Inc, a multistate health care company focused on physical therapy services. In addition to having served as vice chair of the Hastings College Board of Trustees, he served as vice chair of the Hastings College Foundation Board of Directors.

    Jackson is a 1970 Hastings graduate. He holds a master of science degree in rehabilitation services administration from DePaul University and a certificate in physical therapy from Northwestern University.

    APTA believes that Jackson is the first physical therapist to be elected president of a college or university in a permanent capacity.  

    Hear Jackson's comments on his new position, and a Q&A with reporters, in this video press conference