APTQI Applauds Introduction of Legislation to Protect Rural Patients’ Access to Physical and Occupational Therapy

WASHINGTON, D.C.The Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation (APTQI) today commended Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Jason Smith (R-MO) for introducing the Stabilizing Medicare Access to Rehabilitation and Therapy (SMART) Act (H.R. 5536), legislation to protect Medicare beneficiaries’ access to physical and occupational therapy in rural and underserved areas. Specifically, this legislation would prevent severe Medicare cuts to services provided by physical therapist assistants (PTAs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) in these areas.

Without action from Congress, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will cut services provided by PTAs and OTAs by 15 percent, in addition to a 6 percent overall cut to therapy services, on January 1, 2022. The SMART Act will help to alleviate the burden faced by therapy providers by delaying the implementation of payment cuts until 2023 to allow providers more time to prepare.

“APTQI applauds Representatives Rush and Smith for their leadership in introducing the SMART Act,” said Nikesh Patel, PT, Executive Director of APTQI. “Access to physical and occupational therapy in rural, medically underserved areas depends on the availability of PTAs and OTAs. By delaying proposed cuts to these services, this legislation will help protect rural patients’ access to care.”

PTAs and OTAs are particularly essential in ensuring that America’s seniors have access to therapy services in rural and underserved areas where patients often rely on therapy assistants for their care. By mitigating payment cuts to therapy assistant payment cuts in rural and medically underserved areas, this legislation can help to slow the growing problem of limited access to physical therapy care in rural America.

APTQI urges Congress to pass the SMART Act to protect vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries’ access to vital physical therapy services.