AOTA Federal Policy is a blog maintained by AOTA’s Federal and Regulatory Affairs Departments, covering the latest happenings in Congress, the White House, and across the federal agencies. While the battles of Washington often seem far removed from your role as a practitioner, student, educator, or business owner, public policy undoubtedly shapes the way you practice, what you are paid, and who you’re able to see. We hope this blog serves as a means to bring you closer to the process and keep you up to date on the latest federal issues affecting your practice.
In addition to the content on this blog, you can still find regular updates and information on our Congressional Affairs and Regulatory Affairs pages by visiting AOTA’s website including our Legislative Action Center.
The House of Representatives has scheduled a Friday vote on legislation to reform Medicare provider payments (often called the SGR). Despite support from both sides of the aisle for including therapy cap repeal language, it appears, at this juncture, the bill will be considered without it. AOTA has called on its Congressional allies to weigh in with House leadership regarding the omission. Fixing a broken provider payment system without addressing this critical patient access issue is unacceptable and will serve to leave thousands of Medicare beneficiaries behind.
Meanwhile on the other side of the Capitol, the Senate announced plans to advance its own SGR reform legislation on a parallel track. Unlike their House counterparts, the Senate expects to address a number of critical Medicare and Medicaid 'extender' provisions in their version, including a full repeal of the outpatient therapy cap. Full consideration on the Senate floor would mark a significant victory and bring us one step closer to realizing full repeal of the cap. The vote is expected to occur when the Senate returns from recess for the last week of March. AOTA is urging Senators to support beneficiary access to needed therapy services by ensuring therapy cap repeal is preserved in the final version that passes the Senate chamber.
While bills in both chambers are poised to advance, intense negotiations remain over how best to offset the costs associated with fixing Medicare’s broken provider payment system. House plans to offset the bill by delaying the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate all but ensure a Democratic-led Senate will baulk. It remains unclear what means the Senate will use to pay for their version of SGR reform, but a vote is expected when the chamber returns from recess.
With a March 31st deadline for action looming, Congress must act swiftly to address these policies permanently or risk allowing dramatic cuts to providers and a hard cap on therapy services to take effect.