The American Physical Therapy Association is reviewing the 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule and will have a detailed summary to share with our members in the coming days.
APTA's preliminary analysis of the rule demonstrates how critical it is for Congress to intervene and find a long-term solution for the systemic problems in the fee schedule. Of note, Year 2024 will be the fourth consecutive year that Medicare has reduced payment for physical therapists and most other health care providers. And, it is during these same years that providers have braved the COVID-19 pandemic, experienced workforce shortages, transitioned to telehealth, and faced countless other challenges — these providers deserve to be paid fairly for their services. Fair pay will lead to greater access to services where they are threatened most, in rural and underserved communities.
Although the 3.3% reduction of the conversion factor is unacceptable, we are pleased that the rule otherwise proposes several policy changes that will positively impact physical therapy and the patients who need it. Changes to PTA supervision standards, new codes for caregiver training, and the extension of telehealth will increase patient access to physical therapy. Other policies, such as the revaluation of the practice expense of 19 therapy codes and the new Musculoskeletal MIPS Value Pathway will help to ensure physical therapy practices are paid fairly for their PTs' services.
APTA, along with our partners at the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, recently released a set of policy principles to guide advocacy efforts to reform the Medicare fee schedule. Reforms to the fee schedule must address the unique challenges faced by therapy providers. The economic value that physical therapist services bring to the health care system and the patients we serve is not reflected in the current fee schedule. Addressing patient access, payment, and administrative burden is critical to providing value-based payment while addressing the increased costs of running a practice. These policy principles impacting outpatient therapy services provide a starting point, and APTA is eager to work with our congressional champions and provider allies in seeking meaningful fee schedule reforms.