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Spring into Summer Federal Advocacy Update Make your Voice Heard This Summer

Tuesday, June 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Nicholas
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Spring into Summer Federal Advocacy Update
Make your Voice Heard This Summer

By: Julie Schwertfeger, PT, DPT, MBA, IPTA Federal Affairs Liaison

Here are the highlights on key federal policy items that you are encouraged to talk about with your local legislators:

Therapy Cap repeal:  This is URGENT and we currently have 151 cosponsors in the House and 26 in the Senate.  You may recall that we ended last year with 232 and 35 respectively. 
The exceptions process for the therapy cap expires December 31, 2017.  Without repeal, there will not be exceptions to the cap in 2018!!!

PT Workforce bill: The Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act (H.R. 1639/S. 619) would include physical therapists in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program and will help to increase the physical therapist workforce as well as provide greater patient access to rehabilitation services in underserved areas of the country.  Our PT workforce bill currently has approximately 35 cosponsors in the House and 1 in the Senate. We would like to regain all of the cosponsors we had in the House in the 114th Congress and are working to gain more momentum in the Senate.

Sport Medicine bill:  The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act (S. 808) provides certain licensure clarifications and legal protections as physical therapists, physicians and athletic trainers travel with sports teams across state lines. This bill passed the House in early January and now we are working to progress the bill in the Senate by gaining additional cosponsors including the Senate HELP committee.

Recent Policy Actions:

There is a delay until January 2018 in the effective date for the final rule on Cardiac EPMs and CJR
CMS further delayed the start date of several new episode payment models, the cardiac rehabilitation incentive payment model, and updates to the comprehensive care for joint replacement model (CJR) to January 1, 2018.  Three of the new models are designed to improve cardiac care, while a fourth model expands upon CJR to include care furnished to patients who receive surgery for hip and femur fractures.  Acute care hospitals in certain geographic areas will participate in these models, beginning with a hospitalization and extending for 90 days post-discharge. More info can be found at PTNews.

Locum Tenens in rural areas, now called ‘Reciprocal billing’ went into effect June 13, 2017
Locum tenens: JCMS released a change request transmittal updating the Medicare Claims Processing Manual to implement a provision of the 21st Century Cures Act which allows outpatient physical therapy services furnished in certain rural areas to be billed under reciprocal billing and fee-for-time compensation arrangements in the same manner for physicians. More info on this at PTNews/Locum Tenens for PTs begins mid June

APTA Congressional Update:

Healthcare Reform:  We are continuing to track the AHCA and Senate conversations regarding repeal and replace legislation. The Finance and HELP committees are working on a framework for senate legislation with the goal of having a bill and vote on the floor prior to the upcoming August recess.  APTA is continuing to express our concerns.  A letter from Sharon Dunn went out to all Senate offices, and an action alert to PTeam members illustrating APTAs concerns with proposed changes to the Essential Health Benefits and to the Medicaid program.  APTA offers to be a resource as the Senate works to craft their legislation.  

Budget: The President released his budget blueprint, which included $1.4 trillion in cuts to the Medicaid program over the next 10 years ($800 billion attributed to eliminating Medicaid expansion as written in the AHCA) and $5.8 billion in cuts to NIH ($300 million in cuts to National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that handles the majority of medical rehab research). APTA expressed concerns and will closely follow the legislative budgeting discussion in order to share concerns if any of these cuts gain traction.  

Summer Advocacy: Summer is a great time to invite members of Congress to your practices/schools for a visit or to schedule a meeting at their district offices while they are in-district for the 4th of July recess (July 1-10) and especially for the August recess (July 29-September 14).

Here are a few suggestions for making sure you get on the schedule of your Senator or Representative:

  • Make sure all requests for a meeting or practice visit are made four to six weeks in advance
  • Please relay an agenda for your meeting or visit when you have a date and time scheduled so that the Member can be as prepared as possible
  • Feel free to send any pertinent documents or studies over in advance on whatever subject you are planning to speak with them about (APTA will be more than happy to get you information, if needed)
  • If possible, schedule a meeting at their district office and, while there, ask to get a practice visit on the schedule – the more contacts the better.  Use the APTA Action App or go to the APTA Advocacy website  for more policy and action help.

Want to learn more about federal advocacy? Email Julie Schwertfeger, PT, DPT, MBA IPTA Federal Affairs Liaison

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