During a recent conference call, representatives from APTA, AOTA, and others called on Congress to permanently end Medicare Part B caps on physical, speech, and occupational therapy by adding language to a funding measure.

On January 1, a 2-year therapy caps exception expired and limits of $2,010 for physical and speech therapy combined and $2,010 for occupational therapy were reinstated. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid held some therapy billings, but the agency began processing early January claims “first-come, first-served” on January 25, states a news story from McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

During the conference call on Thursday, February 1, coordinated by AARP, participants noted that clients are already being forced to pare back or cancel services because of out-of-pocket costs.

“There is a sense of urgency that Congress must act,” says Justin Elliott, vice president of government affairs for the American Physical Therapy Association, in the news story. “If this drags on until March, we’re going to have more compounding problems.”

House Republican leaders have said they want to attach funding for an expiring health program to a stopgap measure needed to keep the government open after February 8.

Bloomberg BNA reported that members of Congress are considering adding an extension for the federal community health centers program or several short-term Medicare “extenders” provisions. The cap repeal is included in one of three extender packages.

Such health measures could be used to attract votes for the next continuing resolution or in a final spending bill, Rep Tom Cole (R-OK) said January 30, the news story continues.

Heather Parsons, associate chief officer for federal affairs for the American Occupational Therapy Association, said the Congressional Budget Office put the current cost of doing away with therapy caps at $6.5 billion, a far cry from the $13 billion cost cited in years past.

“This is such an opportunity, and I’m not sure it’s going to come our way again,” she states, per the news story.

[Source: McKnight’s Long-Term Care News]