The recently released Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) Proposed Rule for CY2022 once again includes deep, across-the-board payment cuts to physical, occupational, and speech therapy despite bipartisan lawmaker and broad healthcare stakeholder opposition, The Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation (APTQI) notes in a media release.

These include a 3.5% cut to providers in CY2022, eventually adding up to a steep 9% payment cut by 2024. Since originally proposed and then implemented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on January 1, 2021, the APTQI has warned that continued cuts to specialty Medicare services will undermine the ability of vulnerable seniors to access the vital therapy services they need to manage their post-operative care, pain, immobility, and risk of falling.

“Despite widespread opposition from lawmakers and stakeholders alike – and the very real fear that these severe cuts risk disrupting seniors’ access to necessary, timely care – it is disappointing that CMS has once again proposed reducing reimbursement rates to physical, occupational, and speech therapy providers.

“Recognizing these cuts will total a full 9 percent by 2024, and the serious implications these cuts will have on providers and patient access, APTQI urges CMS to change course and not finalize this concerning proposal.” 

— Nikesh Patel, PT, Executive Director of APTQI

In 2020, lawmakers, specialty healthcare providers, and APTQI advocates voiced their opposition to specialty provider cuts to CMS and Congress. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, which has created unprecedented challenges for patients and providers, cuts to America’s healthcare professionals will only create additional patient barriers to care and put providers at greater financial risk, a media release from APTQI opines.

APTQI data suggests that American seniors largely supported previous efforts in Congress to prevent the specialty cuts from taking effect in 2021. Further, more than three-fourths (76%) of senior voters polled would support Congress taking action to pass long-term reform to stabilize funding for primary care and medical specialists. And, more than nine in 10 seniors (93%) said they believe it is important to have access to Physical Therapy Centers, where patients with pain, injuries, or disabilities can receive treatment and recover from surgery.

Recognizing the importance of this issue, Congress passed bipartisan legislation in December 2020 to ease the severity of the funding cuts to specialty providers – including physical, occupational, and speech therapists – which went into effect on January 1, 2021, the release continues. 

“Late last year, APTQI commended Congress for passing a bipartisan bill to alleviate cuts to specialty providers, including the physical, occupational, and speech therapy communities. While we welcomed the relief from Congress in 2021, the proposed 3.5 percent cut for CY2022 still puts providers at risk of incurring a full 9 percent payment cut by 2024.

“We look forward to again working with our champions in Congress to protect patients against these cuts and advance Medicare policies that protect America’s specialty care patients and providers.”

— Nikesh Patel, PT

[Source: APTQI]

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