Protecting Access to Physical Therapy Services

Physical, occupational and speech therapists help seniors stay active, healthy, and independent, but severe changes in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2020 threatened to deal a devastating blow to the financial stability of the sector. If enacted as proposed, CMS would have imposed steep 9% Medicare reimbursement cuts to services furnished by therapy professionals – on top of years of successive cuts.

 

With significant Medicare reimbursement cuts looming, the Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation (APTQI) recognized the need to garner the support of key policymakers and influencers to delay and mitigate the proposed cuts, protecting the millions of Medicare beneficiaries who benefit from physical, occupational and speech therapies.

Rallying the Therapy Provider Community to Advocate

When CMS proposed these devastating reimbursement cuts, it was important to activate therapists around the country to stop the cuts from harming patient access and quality of care.

 

Through grassroots advocacy, stakeholders worked together to raise awareness within CMS and Congress. A total 4,781 unique comment letters were written to CMS, over 66,000 emails were sent to Members of Congress, and 30 letters-to-the-editor were published in local newspapers across the country. Working with physical therapists across the country, a series of 10 op-eds and 18 unique articles about this issue were placed, garnering more than 13 million media impressions. In combination with social media efforts, the nationwide coalition amplified the voices of the physical therapy community to key lawmakers while they were in DC and at home.

Results

In response to the outpouring of concern from the provider community, Congress took action to reduce the Medicare cuts—from nine percent to three percent—before the rule when into effect in 2021. APTQI lawmaker champions also introduced four new pieces of legislation to further support the physical therapy and other Medicare specialty provider communities.