Medicare Delays Implementation of New "Incident To" Rules
As a result of a May 31 lawsuit filed by the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) against the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding certified athletic trainers' ability to practice, CMS has delayed the planned June 6 enforcement of new rules requiring that "incident to" occupational therapy services for Medicare beneficiaries be provided by qualified occupational therapists.
Public announcement of this delay was made at the June 7 Allied Health Open Door Forum by Steve Phillips, director of the Division of Practitioner Services at CMS. CMS expects a short delay in implementing the "incident to" qualifications.
According to a NATA press release, the lawsuit stems from a recent decision by CMS, issued by transmittal dated May 6, 2005, to no longer pay for therapy incident to a physician's services unless the provider is a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech/language pathologist.
However, CMS will implement all other rules in the same May 6 transmittal that affect occupational therapy. Occupational therapists should familiarize themselves with the general format and content of the Medicare therapy manual changes available on the CMS Web site.