A Discussion with Wright Physical Therapy CEO Bryan Wright About the COVID-19 Crisis

During this unprecedented public health emergency, millions of Medicare patients have lost access to the physical therapy services they rely on to manage their pain, post-operative care, mobility, and risk of falling.

The interruption in care caused by this pandemic will undoubtedly cause a myriad of downstream, long-term negative effects for patients, physical therapy practices and the healthcare system as a whole. Unfortunately, as we look past this current crisis, these problems will be further compounded by pending, potentially devastating 8% Medicare cuts to physical therapy services in 2021.

We recently spoke with Bryan Wright, the owner of Wright Physical Therapy in Idaho, about his experience during the COVID-19 crisis and his concerns for the future.

Note: This interview was conducted on April 27. In documents issued on April 30, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services extended reimbursement eligibility for physical therapy appointments delivered through telehealth. The rule change enables Medicare coverage for telehealth services delivered by physical and occupational therapists. Click here to learn more.

We asked Bryan the following questions:

  • What are your topline observations about how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted physical therapy patients and their therapists? (0:19)
  • I imagine countless patients have had their continuity of care interrupted. Looking beyond the present crisis, what downstream effects might we expect as a result of this interruption? (2:42)
  • How are you reaching Medicare beneficiaries during this time? (4:21)
  • Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent statewide “stay at home orders,” how dramatic has the drop been in physical therapy visits across clinics? (7:44)
  • How do you anticipate this drop off will impact your business long-term? (8:38)
  • From a policy perspective, what concerns do you have for the physical therapy profession as you look toward the future? (11:28)
  • We know that physical therapists face another big threat at the end of this year – an 8% Medicare payment cut. What can Congress do to help physical therapists? (14:50)
  • If you could share one message with Congress and the general public about what it is like to be in the physical therapy profession right now, what would it be? (17:05)

Congress has the opportunity to prevent the latest Medicare cut before more seniors lose access to care. By waiving the budget neutrality requirement in the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) final rule for CY 2020, lawmakers can save therapy service reimbursement from the 8% cut while also allowing for other code increases to go into effect.

Click here to ask Congress to protect access to physical therapy.