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  • APTA Special Communication: Sequestration and Time-sensitive PT Issues

    Look for a special e-mail today from APTA that includes important information about sequestration and other time-sensitive issues that have a significant impact on physical therapists (PTs). Included in the e-mail is a new video featuring APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, outlining 2013 policy implementation dates that PTs need to know and how they can support APTA's advocacy efforts.

    For more information, go to APTA's recently updated 2013 Medicare Changes webpage, which includes the video, a new graphic and Heard on the Hill podcast, and other resources to help members comply with the latest policy requirements.

    Reform Expands Health Information Exchange, Telehealth Capabilities to Rural Areas; Has Potential to Reduce Medicaid Costs

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently released a final rule reforming its universal service support program for health care. Specifically, the rule transitions FCC's existing Internet Access and Rural Health Care Pilot programs into a new Healthcare Connect Fund. This fund will expand health care provider access to broadband, especially in rural areas, and encourage the creation of state and regional broadband health care networks.

    In the rule, FCC notes that "Whether it is used for transmitting electronic health records, sending X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans to specialists at a distant hospital, or for video conferencing for telemedicine or training, access to broadband for medical providers saves lives while lowering health care costs and improving patient experiences." In particular, FCC acknowledges the role of telemedicine in helping patients with stroke avoid lasting damage.

    The final rule also includes examples of how telehealth applications save health care providers money. For example, a South Carolina provider consortium funded by the Commission's Rural Health Care Pilot Program saved $18 million in Medicaid costs through telepsychiatry provided at hospital emergency rooms. Another pilot project in the Midwest saved $1.2 million in patient transport costs after establishing an electronic intensive care unit program, known as "e-ICU."

    APTA will post a summary of the rule in the near future to www.apta.org.

    Michigan PTs Participate in Clinical Trial Awareness Day

    Four physical therapists (PTs) from the Michigan Chapter presented posters at the Clinical Trial Awareness Day held at the state capitol on January 30. This inaugural event, sponsored by state Rep Gail Haines (43rd District), chair of the House Health Policy Committee, aimed to educate citizens about the clinical trials taking place in Michigan and encourage lawmakers to create a research-friendly environment. More than 20 research participants represented the state's major universities and hospitals. The PTs spoke with many state representatives and senators on the importance of medical research and how physical therapy contributes to the advancement of patient care. 

    In her opening remarks, Hines noted that there are more than 3,400 clinical trials under way in Michigan.

    February 28, 2013 - MNPTA

    (Left to right) Cathy Larson, PT, PhD, University of Michigan Flint; Susan Talley, PT, DPT, C/NDT, Wayne State University; Michael Shoemaker, PT, DPT, PhD, GCS, Grand Valley State University; and Lucinda Pfalzer, PT, PhD, FAPTA, University of Michigan Flint.