APTQI Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Specialty Care from Severe Reimbursement Cuts

H.R. 8505 would delay severe payment cuts and ensure continued patient access to dozens of healthcare specialties—including physical and occupational therapy

Washington, D.C. –– The Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation (APTQI) applauds the introduction of H.R. 8505. Introduced by Reps. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Bobby Rush (D-IL), this bipartisan legislation would, if passed, temporarily waive budget neutrality adjustments under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. By waiving Medicare’s budget neutrality rule for one year, the legislation would give the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) the ability to immediately delay or mitigate significant Medicare cuts scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2021, while allowing the scheduled payment increases to go into effect for primary care and other physician office visits.

Under the Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule issued in August, 33 specialty providers – including oncologists, cardiologists, radiologists, and emergency medicine physicians – face substantial reimbursement reductions in order to offset increases for evaluation and management (E/M) services. This includes physical and occupational therapists, who would be subject to a severe 9% cut that comes on top of a decade of other serious reimbursement reductions. H.R. 8505 would create statutory authority for CMS to stop these devastating cuts by waiving budget neutrality for one year.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Medicare’s proposed cuts to specialty providers threatened to impose severe financial constraints on practices and undermine patient access to the critical care services they need—including physical and occupational therapy,” said Nikesh Patel, PT, Executive Director of APTQI. “This bipartisan legislation would go a long way towards removing the existential pressures specialty providers currently face, while ensuring we remain financially viable during the pandemic so we can continue serving our Medicare patients. We applaud Reps. Burgess and Rush for spearheading this critical legislation and urge Congress to pass it quickly.”

There is strong bipartisan support in Congress for temporarily waiving budget neutrality in order to prevent the Medicare cuts from going into effect. Recently, a bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to include provisions in the next pandemic relief package that would delay these harmful specialty payment cuts. In addition, more than 160 lawmakers, led by Representatives Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Bobby Rush (D-IL), recently sent a letter to Medicare officials expressing deep concern over the prospect of undermining healthcare providers amid the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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