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After an approximate 36-hour shutdown, the US government is back in business, which means the push is on to get a permanent repeal of the Medicare therapy cap over the finish line.

On Monday, January 22, the US House and Senate agreed to fund the federal government through February 8. The deal fully funds the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 6 years, and was accompanied by a compromise to bring a vote on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation if a deal on immigration is not reached by February 8. What the deal does not include is a repeal of the hard cap on therapy services under Medicare, despite intense lobbying, grassroots, and social media efforts by APTA and members of the Repeal the Therapy Cap Coalition. Also missing from the deal: fixes to a host of Medicare-related critical issues affecting millions of Americans.

Essentially, the short-term spending bill is intended to buy legislators time to agree on a longer-term funding plan—one that APTA is pushing to include a repeal of the hard Medicare therapy cap now in place. It's an idea supported by several legislators including Sen Ben Cardin (MD), who took to the Senate floor to call for action on the cap by the February 8 deadline.

For the physical therapy profession, patients, and stakeholders, it's now time to work harder than ever before to make it clear to lawmakers that the hard cap must end.

Although APTA's efforts to push for passage of a bicameral, bipartisan deal on the therapy cap never let up, the association plans to turn up the heat even more over the next few weeks. APTA is developing a special campaign that will involve physical therapists and patients across the country, and will contact members in the coming days about opportunities for participation. In the meantime, members and supporters are being urged to continue to contact members of Congress via email, phone, and social media, and tell them to pass the therapy cap permanent fix as soon as possible.

"The time has come for resolution of this unacceptable situation," said Justin Elliott, APTA's vice president of government affairs."A person who is recovering from a stroke or other serious condition may be days away from hitting the hard cap and having Medicare no longer pay for essential physical and speech therapy. Therapy can’t wait—neither can Congress. There is a bipartisan solution to permanently address the hard cap, and Congress must act on it now."

 

 


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