"Physical therapy is not a subspecialty of the medical profession and physical therapists are not medical doctors; we are a separate profession that provides a unique service that physicians are unable and untrained to provide."

Letter to the AMA from the APTA, Dec 2009

Thursday, July 10, 2008

20% Medicare Physical Therapy cuts in 2009

The US Senate, on July 9, 2008, overwhelmingly passed their version of HR 6331, designed to prevent the 10.6% cut in the Physicans' Fee Schedule and reinstate the Automatic Exceptions Process to the Physical Therapy $1,810 benefits cap.

The physical therapy benefits caps arbitrarily imposes the cap once outpatient physical therapy charges reach $1,810. Thus, those patients who need physical therapy care the most are harmed the most.

One of my patients, an elderly grandmother had her left knee replaced on June 1. For four weeks she had to use a walker to get from her bed to her bathroom and caused her right elbow to hurt.

June 20th she saw her orthopedic surgeon who said she now has developed osteoarthritis in her left shoulder and needs the shoulder replaced.

On June 29th the "regularly-scheduled hostage crisis" in the US Senate had Americans and their health care providers anxiously waiting to see which way the budget ax would fall.

So far the ax hasn't fallen on my elderly grandmother - she has been able to get her physical therapy at the hospital. Hospital outpatient physical therapy departments are exempt from the cap.

Ironically, the passage of HR 6331 sets the stage for a 20% Medicare cut in December 2009.

Pete Sepp of the Shreveport Times says the following:
"The outcome of this drama depends on whether politicians enact modest reforms sooner to avoid catastrophe later."
As I posted before the Senate vote I recommended an annual 2% cut to the Physicians' (and physical therapists') Fee Schedule.

The American Medical Association (and the APTA)would be unable to register sufficient voter and constituent indignation to counter the cut.

I don't want a 2% to my practice revenues but I, just like all Americans, can see the writing on the wall.

We've made the diagnosis.

Diagnosis is necessary for prognosis.

Now is time for some bitter medicine, before it' too late.

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Tim Richardson, PT owns a private practice at Medical Arts Rehabilitation, Inc in Palmetto, Florida. The clinic website is at MedicalArtsRehab.com.

Bulletproof Expert Systems: Clinical Decision Support for Physical Therapists in the Outpatient Setting is a manager's workbook with stories, checklists, charts, graphs, tables, and templates describing how you can use paper-based or computerized tools to improve your clinic's Medicare compliance, process adherence and patient outcomes.

Tim has implemented a computerized Clinical Decision Support (CDS) system in his clinic since 2006 that serves as a Reminder, Alerting, Prompting and Predicting CDS using evidence-based tests and measures.

Tim can be reached at
TimRichPT@BulletproofPT.com .

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Consistent with the American Physical Therapy Association Vision Statement for Physical Therapy 2020, the American Physical Therapy Association supports exclusive physical therapist ownership and operation of physical therapy services.