Dozens of Bipartisan Lawmakers Urge CMS to Protect Physical Therapy

In response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed 8% cut to physical therapy services, a bipartisan group of 55 Members of Congress signed a letter to CMS to voice their opposition to the proposed cuts.

In the letter, led by Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH), the lawmakers emphasized the growing need for physical therapy services:

“The number of Medicare beneficiaries accessing physical therapy and occupational therapy services has been increasing due in part to the aging of our population and increase in the number of beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. This trend is positive in that expanded utilization of outpatient physical therapy and occupational therapy means reduced necessity for costly hospitalization and readmission. The timing of these cuts is particularly alarming as occupational and physical therapists are on the front lines addressing pain management for many who would otherwise have no other option than to utilize opioid medications to address their pain.”

And expressed concern for how this 8% cut would impact access to care, particularly in rural and underserved areas:

“We are particularly concerned for beneficiaries in rural and urban underserved areas who need physical therapy and occupational therapy services. Physical therapists and occupational therapists, particularly those in rural and underserved areas, will be unable to sustain these lower Medicare payments and could be forced to reduce essential staff or possibly even close their doors as a result of this change. Cuts of this magnitude have the potential to cause diminished access and force seniors and individuals with disabilities to travel long distances to receive essential services.”

We applaud these lawmakers for speaking out against these arbitrary, across-the-board cuts to physical therapy services. We hope this letter, which followed the more than 2,300 letters from PTs that were submitted via the APTQI website, will help CMS to understand why this must be changed in the final Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) rule for CY 2020.