9% Cut to Physical and Occupational Therapy in Final PFS Rule for CY 2021 Threatens Patient Access to Care

Healthcare stakeholders call on Congress to promptly pass the Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020 to block cuts from taking effect on January 1

Washington, D.C. –– The Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation (APTQI) today expressed disappointment and concern in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Final Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Rule for CY2021, which makes deep, across-the-board 9% payment cuts to physical, occupational and speech therapy despite bipartisan lawmaker and broad healthcare stakeholder opposition. The APTQI has been advocating against these cuts, which they warn will undermine the ability of vulnerable seniors to access the physical and occupational therapy services they need to manage their post-operative care, pain, immobility and fall risk.

“These cuts undoubtedly threaten patient access to specialty care in America,” said Nikesh Patel, PT, Executive Director of APTQI. “Despite unified warnings from lawmakers, specialty providers, and other stakeholders about the potentially devastating impacts of these cuts in the midst of a global pandemic – CMS nonetheless chose to finalize the Medicare specialty reimbursement reductions in 2021. As a result, we are counting on lawmakers in Congress to pass legislation to provide essential relief to America’s specialty care providers and the millions of vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries we serve.”

APTQI supports the Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020 (H.R. 8702), which would halt the implementation of payment reductions for two years in order to stabilize the nation’s healthcare system and ensure patients’ continued access to vital services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, the bill would provide much-needed stability by preventing the specialty cuts while still allowing significant reimbursement increases for evaluation and management (E/M) services to go into effect.

Hundreds of lawmakers, a large coalition of specialty healthcare providers and more than 36,000 APTQI advocates have reached out to CMS and Congress since the specialty cuts were proposed voicing opposition to the cuts. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, cuts to America’s healthcare providers will only create additional patient barriers to care and put providers at greater financial risk.

Recent data show American seniors largely support efforts in Congress to prevent the specialty cuts from taking effect in 2021. Further, more than three-fourths (76%) of senior voters polled would support Congress taking action to pass long-term reform that would stabilize funding for primary care and medical specialists. And more than 9 in 10 seniors (93%) believe it is important to have access to Physical Therapy Centers, where patients with pain, injuries or disabilities can receive treatment and recover from surgery.

“American seniors largely agree that Congress should take action to block these cuts through a legislative solution,” added Patel.  “We will continue to work with our champions in Congress to ensure H.R. 8702 is passed into law before these cuts limit patient access to medically-necessary care and drive physical and occupational therapy providers out of business.”

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