The RehabCare Advocacy Network of therapists and our government
relations team traveled to Capitol Hill last week for the 2014 AHCA/NCAL
Congressional Briefing to discuss patient access to medically necessary
therapies. The combined services of physical, occupational and speech therapies
have the opportunity to provide significant savings to the Medicare program by
reducing the risk of rehospitalization and improving functional abilities, but
the provision of therapy continues to be threatened by regulatory measures such
as Part B therapy caps, changes to group and concurrent therapy, coding changes
and the application of the Medical Manual Review (MMR) and Multiple Procedure
Payment Reduction policies. Our Advocacy Network was founded in fall 2013 to
mobilize our clinicians and enable them to directly share with policy makers
the experiences and issues that are critical to the recovery of our patients.
Through the course of six meetings last week, RehabCare members
from across the country met with lawmakers at the AHCA/NCAL Congressional
Briefing to discuss the potential consequences of these annual reforms and
rules that affect rehabilitation. RehabCare visited the staff members
from the offices of Senator Bill Nelson, D-FL, Senator Bob Casey, D-PA, Senator
Bob Menendez, D-NJ and Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-MI – all of whom serve on the
important Senate Finance Committee. The team also met with staff for the Senate
Finance Committee and the Senate Committee on Energy and Commerce – both of
which have jurisdiction over the Medicare program.
Our therapists explained the impact of therapy caps on patient
care and how arbitrary caps can limit access to necessary treatment as well as
hinder preventative care – and they also had the opportunity to thank the
Senate offices for their continued support of therapy services. They were able
to convey that a lack of understanding of the therapy caps by patients and
their families often lead a patient to prematurely discontinue treatment out of
concern that payment for care may be limited. Our team continues to advocate
for a full repeal of the therapy cap as part of a permanent doc fix.
The RehabCare Advocacy Network members were able to provide
first-hand accounts of the significant administrative burdens that have been
the unintentional outcome of several recent legislative and regulatory updates.
Increased paperwork and the introduction of new codes require extensive
training and instruction surrounding new policies that are not always
By participating in events like the Congressional Briefing, the
RehabCare Advocacy Network is providing a platform for our engaged and
well-educated therapists to help influence rehab legislation and regulation.
Our goal is to provide tools, resources and critical up-to-date information to
RehabCare therapists in order to enable them to become more actively involved
in advocating for their profession with legislators and associations.
The Advocacy Network of therapists, program directors, clinical
performance specialists and others has grown to nearly 500 members since its inception
and continues to expand. The first action of the network involved inviting team
members to contact their members of Congress through our partner association,
NASL. These efforts contributed to a short-term extension of the Part B Therapy
Cap exceptions process and the inclusion of draft language to improve the MMR
process within the larger “doc fix” legislation that is actively being
deliberated by policy makers at this time. Our therapists also flew to
Washington in April to participate in the APTA Federal Advocacy Forum. A
similar event is being organized for OTs and SLPs in the fall, and the
RehabCare Advocacy Network plans to send our therapists later in the year.
RehabCare employees who wish to join the Advocacy Network may do
so by contacting Barbara Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org or clicking
here to register. Members will receive communications about
our ongoing efforts and information about how to lend their voice.
Take a look at us in action!
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