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  • Let Everyone See How You Celebrated National Physical Therapy Month

    How did you celebrate National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM)? Tell APTA—and the rest of the world.

    APTA is calling on physical therapists (PTs), physical therapist assistants (PTAs), students, and faculty to share stories and photos of their October activities to bring attention to the value of physical therapy. An ever-growing collection of photos and statements has been posted to a special APTA NPTM celebration page, and now's your chance to add your highlights to the chronicle of celebrations across the country.

    Help APTA and your fellow PTs and PTAs show how physical therapy can help restore and improve motion in people’s lives. E-mail a brief description and at least 1 photo (300 dpi) to the APTA public relations staff, then sit back and watch as you become the next worldwide internet sensation.

    Okay, maybe not, but you'll at least get the thrill of seeing your own post on APTA's website, and the satisfaction of knowing you've helped to promote physical therapy. And then, who knows?

    APTA Private Insurance Page Adds Expanded MPPR Resources

    The increased use of the multiple procedure payment reduction (MPPR) by private and workers' compensation payers is already affecting physical therapists (PTs), and it's now among the elements of the changing insurance landscape addressed in an expanded APTA private insurance website.

    APTA online resources now include targeted MPPR information related to the move made by private insurers to adopt policies first developed by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The shift toward MPPR poses a risk to PTs, who need to carefully review contracts with insurers to evaluate impact. The APTA website includes tips on contract review that can help PTs determine if the policy is appropriately applied under the contract and payment guidelines to help PTs verify the accuracy of any overpayment amount claimed by the insurer.

    Several insurers, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of Kansas City, BCBS of Missouri, Wellmark, Aetna, and UnitedHealthcare have implemented MPPR over the past 2 years, and are paying claims using an MPPR methodology.

    A recent example of the trend toward MPPR use surfaced earlier this year, when Humana announced that it would be applying MPPR policies, an approach that it had initially adopted in 2011 but quickly reversed. Not long after the reversal, Humana announced that it would be reviewing the MPPR payment methodology and stated that it may make changes to payments. When those changes were implemented, Humana made providers aware of its shift to MPPR by sending notifications of overpayments on claims as far back as 2012 for contracted providers. Noncontracted providers were told that they were responsible for overpayments dating back to 2011.

    In light of Humana's reversal on MPPR, APTA sent a formal letter (.pdf) to Humana's CEO addressing several areas that it views as problematic for PTs. APTA expressed particular concern over the lack of prior warning of Humana’s intention to adopt the policy, the administrative burdens associated with overpayment recovery, the appropriateness of MPPR's application to medical procedure codes, the suitability of application to all contracts, and apparent inaccuracies in calculations that result in incorrect overpayment amounts.

    Global Stroke Burden Increasing

    In what its authors describe as the first study of its kind, the burden of stroke was found to be a growing global issue, with a 25% increase in the number of strokes suffered by adults aged 20-64 around the world, and disparities among higher and lower-income countries.

    The study, published in The Lancet (free one-time registration required) this month, states that the rise in strokes among younger populations will put increased burdens on countries throughout the world, albeit at rates that more heavily impact lower-income countries. The increases need to be addressed through greater awareness of risk factors and preventive measures, according to the authors, and further study is needed to examine the causes for disparities in stroke burden among countries with varying levels of income.

    The researchers included 119 studies (58 from high-income countries and 61 from low- and middle-income countries), published between 1990 and 2010. They applied the analytical technique from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010 to calculate estimates of stroke incidence, prevalence, mortality, and disability-adjusted life-years lost by age group and country income level.

    The authors also write that the numbers point to a "need for health-care services … to pay more attention to provision of stroke chronic care (including prevention of secondary stroke)" and the incorporation of "community rehabilitation, including self-managed rehabilitation strategies." APTA offers resources to physical therapists (PTs), including a podcast, around care of patients with limitations in functioning after a stroke, and has created a PT's "guide to stroke" and pocket guide to physical fitness for survivors of stroke at its Move Forward website.