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APTA Calls For CMS and Congressional Action to Prohibit Unqualified Personnel From Providing Physical Therapy Services
Date:8/10/2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is calling on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Congress to act to prevent unqualified personnel from providing physical therapy services following the release of a federal report on physician "incident to" services (services that are billed by physicians but are performed by nonphysicians) billed in 2007 under the Medicare program.

The report, released by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the US Department of Health and Human Services, found that when Medicare allowed physicians more than 24 hours of services in a day, half of the services were not performed personally by a physician.(1) It also found that unqualified nonphysicians performed 21% of the services that physicians did not perform personally. Additionally, 49% of rehabilitation therapy services (including primarily therapeutic exercise, massage therapy, ultrasound therapy, therapeutic activities, and electrical stimulation) performed by nonphysicians were furnished by staff not trained as therapists and who the OlG found to be unqualified.

Medicare rules require that physical therapy services provided "incident to" the professional services of a physician be furnished by a graduate of a professional physical therapist program, or a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or physician assistant if allowed by state law. Medicare is authorized to only pay for services provided by individuals trained specifically in physical therapy.

"APTA is alarmed by these findings," said APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "To ensure high quality care, physical therapy services should be furnished by licensed physical therapists and physical therapist assistants under the di
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SOURCE American Physical Therapy Association
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