APTQI Commends Congress for Easing Medicare Cuts to Specialty Care in End-of-Year Package

Legislation delays add-on code by three years, extends sequester relief  

Washington, D.C. –– The Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation (APTQI) today commended lawmakers in Congress for passing bipartisan legislation to ease funding cuts to specialty providers – including  physical, occupational, and speech therapists – scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2021. The funding bill passed includes provisions to delay reimbursement cuts and injects additional funding into the CY2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), which would reduce cuts to physical therapy from 9% to a projected 3.6%. Further, the bill extends sequester relief for an additional three months.

The funding bill mitigates cuts to more than 30 healthcare specialties included in the Medicare PFS Final Rule, which Medicare finalized despite opposition from a broad coalition of healthcare stakeholders, patients, and lawmakers from both parties. While Congress was unable to fully eliminate the specialty cut, their decision to ease the Medicare cuts in 2021 will help ensure patients’ continued access to vital services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are pleased that Congress recognized the severity of Medicare’s planned cuts to specialty services and took steps to ease payment reductions for 2021, which will surely help preserve Medicare beneficiaries’ access to specialty services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Nikesh Patel, PT, Executive Director of APTQI. “We appreciate that Congress has taken steps to help stabilize America’s healthcare system during the ongoing public health emergency, but more work must be done to make providers whole again. We look forward to working with the new Administration and the new 117th Congress to advance Medicare policies that protect America’s specialty care patients and providers.”

APTQI and its member organizations worked aggressively to promote the importance of a legislative solution for providers and Medicare beneficiaries, underscoring the need for relief as America’s healthcare system struggles to manage the mounting pressures of COVID-19. Working with bipartisan lawmakers in the United States Senate, the Congressional Black Caucus and House healthcare providers, APTQI helped secure three letters to congressional leadership urging immediate action on this issue. APTQI leaders met with bipartisan Congressional offices to advocate against the 9% cut and APTQI advocates issued more than 65,000 letters to CMS and lawmakers in Congress urging relief.

“Recognizing the diverse community of voices who spoke out against these cuts, we express a deep thanks to our physician and patient advocates, Congressional champions, and all of our stakeholder partners who helped ensure measures were taken to ease damaging cuts to physical and occupational therapy,” concluded Patel. “Your tireless efforts to advocate for specialty providers and the vulnerable patients we serve was invaluable and we appreciate your advocacy.”

The APTQI looks forward to the bill being signed into law.

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