A Physical Therapy Assistant’s Perspective: The Role of PTAs and the Impact of Medicare Cuts

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) play a critical role for individuals in need of physical therapy services by providing care under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs are able to help ensure that individuals can receive the services they need to rehabilitate and regain bodily function, manage pain, prevent injury, and improve mobility, flexibility, and balance.

Despite their value to the healthcare system, Medicare implemented payment cuts of 15% to services provided by PTAs on January 1st – jeopardizing the profession and patient access to the care they provide.

We spoke with Abbey Clayton, a physical therapist assistant at SPEAR Physical Therapy in New York City, to learn more about her work and the impact these cuts will have on both her profession and her patients:

We asked Abbey:

  • What does it mean to be a physical therapist assistant? (0:11)
  • How is your work different from a physical therapist? (0:43)
  • Can you share an example or a story about how physical therapist assistants make a difference in the lives of your patients? (1:20)
  • A 15% Medicare cut to PTA and OTA services went into effect on January 1st. What impact has this had on your profession? (3:08)
  • Have you heard concerns about these Medicare cuts from others in your practice or in the field? (5:07)
  • When you hear about payment cuts from Washington, what does it generally mean for your practice and your patients? (6:35)
  • If people can’t access physical therapy, what alternative care options do these patients have? (7:57)

If these Medicare cuts to PTA services remain in place, patients access to care will be severely compromised. Fortunately, Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Jason Smith (R-MO) recently introduced the Stabilizing Medicare Access to Rehabilitation and Therapy (SMART) Act (H.R. 5536) in order to mitigate these cuts and protect Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care.

If passed, the SMART Act would suspend the therapist assistant cut for this year and protect rural and underserved communities from the reduction permanently. It would also finally allow PTAs to practice as their state license permits in regard to assistant supervision.

Send an email urging your Member of Congress to support the SMART Act to protect rural and underserved Medicare beneficiaries’ access to vital care!