Bipartisan Therapy Cap Repeal Legislation Introduced
Bethesda, MD— Last week, bipartisanship trumped political rancor on Capitol Hill for the good of an estimated 640,000+ Medicare beneficiaries.
On April 14, 2011, Congressmen Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (HR 1546/S 829). This legislation will finally repeal the cap on therapy services for Medicare beneficiaries.
Without Congressional action by December 31, 2011, a therapy cap of $1870 would be applied to occupational therapy and a separate cap of $1870 would take affect on physical therapy and speech-language-pathology services combined.
“Securing bipartisan support for repealing the cap, despite a challenging political and economic environment, demonstrates the long-term advantages of allowing skilled therapists and the beneficiaries’ physicians to determine the appropriate amount of rehabilitation necessary for the beneficiaries to achieve their full potential,” said Tim Nanof, AOTA’s Federal Affairs Manager. “If the therapy cap is put back into place, Medicare beneficiaries recovering from traumatic brain injury, stroke, falls, and other serious conditions will not receive the care they need, limiting their opportunity for independence and ultimately costing the taxpayers more.”
The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2011 (H.R. 1546/S. 829) was introduced in both the House and Senate. The legislation would fully repeal the Medicare Part B Outpatient Therapy Caps on occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology services. In order to accomplish the task of bipartisan introduction, AOTA received enthusiastic support from its Congressional champions--Senators Cardin (D-MD) and Collins (R-ME) championed the legislation along with eight bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate, including Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Al Franken (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dan Inouye (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Jack Reed (D-RI) while Representatives Gerlach (R-PA) and Xavier Becerra (D-CA) took the lead on the bill in the House of Representatives.
If Congress fails to act and address the cap, it is estimated that in 2012 more than 640,000 Medicare beneficiaries would be denied access to rehabilitation services they need to live life to its fullest. The current exceptions process, which ensures continued access to medically necessary rehabilitation, is set to expire on December 31, 2011.
To learn more go to the AOTA’s Legislative Action Center.
Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA’s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to www.aota.org.