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Funds in 2010 Budget Could Increase Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries
Date:5/6/2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Funds in the FY 2010 budget aimed at transforming the nation's health care system may be used to improve access to outpatient physical therapy services for Medicare beneficiaries by repealing the therapy caps, says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

S.Con.Res.13, which recommends budgetary levels and amounts for FY 2009-FY 2014, was passed April 29 by the House of Representatives by a 233 to 193 vote and by a 53 to 43 Senate vote. An amendment by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John Ensign (R-NV) to the budget's existing deficit neutral reserve fund relating to health care reforms allows for improvements to the Medicare program for beneficiaries and protects access to outpatient therapy services, including physical therapy, through measures such as repealing the current outpatient caps while protecting beneficiaries from associated premium increases.

"APTA applauds Congress for recognizing the critical need to repeal the caps on physical therapy services so that Medicare beneficiaries can receive the care they require," said APTA President R Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "By including this provision in the budget, our nation's aging adults are one step closer to having increased access to the rehabilitative and health services provided by physical therapists that are necessary for many conditions, such as stroke, diabetes, Parkinson disease, and cardiovascular disease, that lead to pain and some level of loss of function."

Earlier this year, Senators John Ensign (R-NV), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Representatives Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Mike Ross (D-AR), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (S 46/HR 43), which calls for the repeal of the Medicare therapy caps that limit coverage of outpatient rehabilitation services to $1,840 for physical therapy and speech language pathology combined and $1,840 for occupational therapy services.

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility - in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications. APTA represents more than 72,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice, education, and research. In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com.


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SOURCE American Physical Therapy Association
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