Angela B. Hunter of Physical Therapy for Women’s Health LLC was among nearly 100 physical therapists from across the country who recently convened in Washington, D.C., to lobby members of Congress.
As part of the first-ever fly-in hosted by the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association, Hunter met with U.S. Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and U.S. Reps. George Holding, Renee Ellmers and David Price.
“To have the opportunity to advocate for rehabilitation health care for Nash and Edgecombe County citizens and also small business owners was a valuable experience,” Hunter said. “I was pleased that our elected leaders listened and understood our concerns. I am hopeful that positive results occur from our efforts.”
Discussion included hard-hitting issues affecting the future of health care, the physical therapy profession, the small business owner, and their patients.
“As entrepreneurs in the health field, our physical therapists face legislative challenges and roadblocks in delivering good care,” said Tom DiAngelis, president of the Private Practice Section. “Having the opportunity for the first time, to speak honestly with Congress and bring to their attention the overlooked impact of healthcare reform is a defining moment for the Private Practice Section.
“We thank Physical Therapy for Women’s Health for being a part of this historic occasion and contributing to the thought-provoking dialogue.”
The physical therapists asked Congress to take action on pending legislation and topics that will enable the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective physical therapy to seniors and other patients in need of rehabilitation. The issues include:
- Sustainable Growth Rate: Physical therapists support the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act of 2013 (H.R. 574). This bill would repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate formula that determines Medicare payment rates, fixing the broken reimbursement method so therapists can be paid fairly and commensurate with the value of their services.
- Medicare Therapy Cap: Physical therapists support the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (H.R. 713/S. 367), which would permanently repeal the arbitrary annual per-beneficiary cap for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology services. The bill would allow patients the access to physical therapy needed to restore their health and function.
- Multiple Procedure Payment Reduction: Congress has twice in recent years used inaccurate data to reduce payments to physical therapists and use the savings to patch the flawed SGR formula. PPS is urging Congress to correct this errant MPPR policy.
- Locum Tenens (Substitute therapists): When medical professionals need to take a leave of absence (short or long term) they hire substitutes to fill in. Under current law, private practice physical therapists are not allowed to bring in qualified physical therapists when they need to be away from their practice. PPS is asking Congress to add physical therapists to the list of professionals allowed to bring qualified temporary substitute professionals when the practice owner needs to be away.
- Medicare Opt Out: Currently, physical therapists are not permitted to opt-out of Medicare and treat Medicare patients privately, even if the patient so chooses. Numerous other professionals are allowed to do so. PPS is asking Congress to be included in the list or professionals allowed to opt-out when doing so would better serve their patients. Curbing Fraud and Abuse: PPS members will also recommend cost saving measures for Congress to consider in its quest to curb overutilization of therapy services.