Congressional Lawmakers Demand Medicare Reform After Proposed Cuts to Therapy Services

Therapists in skilled nursing facilities and other healthcare providers are expected to get pay cuts under to the existing long-term Medicare payment system. McKnight’s reports over 245 Congressional lawmakers are asking for a long-term reform to the system.

In an appeal to House leaders, U.S. Representative Ami Bera and others wrote a letter stating, “As Congress begins the complex process of identifying and considering potential long-term reforms, we must also create stability by addressing the immediate payment cuts facing healthcare professionals.”

In July, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed the 2022 Physician Fee Schedule which outlines pay cuts to healthcare providers including therapists. Earlier, lower pay was proposed for physical and occupational therapists along with other therapy services. Additionally, extension of telehealth services was proposed.

Congressional lawmakers wrote, “These cuts will strain our healthcare system and jeopardize patient access to medically necessary services.” In the previous year, therapist took a 9% pay cut. With the new proposal, they would get hit with another 2%. Additionally, lawmakers argued that reimbursement rates have fallen behind and do not align with current inflation rates.

Bera and Bucshon stated, “We must act before the end of the year to avert the imminent cuts. Otherwise, the profound exhaustion from the pandemic combined with the stress of uncertainty in payments may lead to further retirements, office closures, or reduced staffing, ultimately limiting patient access to care.”

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) agreed with the lawmakers and said relief is necessary by the end of the year or else these cuts can greatly affect therapy reimbursement in nursing homes and access to other services.

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