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  • Next PT in Motion Magazine Cover Is Up to You

    Once again, PT in Motion magazine is letting members decide which design will adorn the upcoming issue. For October, editorial staff is proposing 3 designs and asking members to vote on their favorite cover to illustrate our annual edition of the "Best States for PT Practice." The design that receives the most votes will be the next cover.

    Take the quick and simple survey by September 8. Just pick the design you think is likely to get you to open up the magazine, and then check out the October issue to feel the dizzying vindication as a finger-on-the-pulse design pro—or the edifying loneliness of the genius whose artistic vision is woefully under-appreciated, depending on how the voting turns out, of course.

    Report Predicts Coming PT, PTA Shortage in US

    A combination of a dip in the "natural rate of unemployment" and changed labor force numbers associated with the aging of the baby boomer population will likely place physical therapy among the professions experiencing a significant labor shortage over the next decade, according to a new study from The Conference Board.

    In its report "From Not Enough Jobs to Not Enough Workers," the corporate research organization analyzes likely labor market trends in North America, Europe, and Asia and finds that the recent global recession has only "postponed" the coming changes through lingering high unemployment rates. Once those rates begin to drop—as they already have in Canada and Germany—the demographic shift in the workforce will begin to take hold and create relatively rapid labor shortages in a majority of the 464 occupations studied in the report.

    According to a press release from the Conference Board, the US will likely see labor shortages in 3 broad areas: health-related occupations, skilled labor, and jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Among the needed health occupations, the report specifically cites physical therapy and occupational therapy as potential areas of labor shortage, with overall need heightened by a greater demand for health care in general among an aging population. The report received coverage from the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek.

    Most of APTA's projections continue to show physical therapy as a growing profession, with projected unmet demand ranging from 13,638 to 27,820 physical therapist (PT) full-time equivalents (FTEs) over the next 5 years depending on the attrition rate of PTs over time. The total number of licensed PTs is projected to rise from about 176,000 to between 203,000 and 232,000 by 2020. The supply and demand data are part of a suite of resources on the physical therapy workforce available on APTA's website.

    Keep up with APTA's work to support PTs and PTAs in the labor market: check out the association's Workforce Education and Legislation webpage.

    APTA Comments on PFS, HHPPS, OPPS, DMEPOS Proposed Rules

    The 2015 physician fee schedule (PFS), home health prospective payment system (HHPPS), outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS), and durable medical equipment prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) are the subjects of newly available APTA comments on proposed rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

    In the PFS letter (.pdf), APTA raises concerns about the therapy cap and urges timely congressional action. The association also writes that while it supports improved transparency in the valuation of current procedural terminology (CPT) codes, CMS should hold off on implementation of any changes until 2017 and should allow the CPT Editorial Panel to continue its work to develop a new coding structure for the 97000 series. Other areas addressed in the letter include substitute physician billing arrangements (locum tenens), the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the physician quality reporting system (PQRS), and a CMS proposal to expand the value-based modifier program to nonphysicians.

    APTA's letter on the HHPPS (.pdf) makes recommendations on a number of issues, including urging CMS to reduce rebasing percentage cuts and to overhaul therapy payment under the HHPPS. The association also commends CMS on its efforts to simplify therapy reassessment by removing 13- and 19-day timeframes, and recommends that it extend timeframes to every 30 calendar days.

    A separate APTA letter on the OPPS (.pdf) requests that CMS remove physical therapy from the potential services packaged in the proposed comprehensive ambulatory payment classifications (APCs), and that the agency collect cost and utilization data on the proposed packaged ancillary services program and its effects on patient outcomes. The association also writes in support of a CMS-proposed revision to remove the physician recertification requirement for inpatient admission (with the exception of long stays and outlier cases).

    APTA's comments on the DMEPOS rule (.pdf) recognize CMS for its efforts to curb fraud, waste, and abuse but warn that "certain proposed changes … could impede or delay access to timely medically necessary care." The association recommends that CMS proceed carefully with any plans to move to competitive bidding and bundled payment approaches, and urges the agency to conduct pilot testing before implementing any broad program.

    CMS will consider all comments submitted and issue final rules for these settings on or around November 1, 2014.