CMS May Be Cutting Your Medicare Part B Therapy Services

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) may be releasing a new rule regarding cuts to Medicare Part B therapy services next month. If implemented in its current ruling, not only are senior and underserved Americans at risk, but therapy providers have the potential to go out of business, only hurting the economy further. 

According to Cynthia Morton, executive director of the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL), “They want to put more funding into the primary care areas.” But by shifting healthcare priorities, others may become neglected. 

Cutting Medicare Part B therapy services

CMS has proposed a 9 percent decrease for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services in its Proposed Physician Fee Schedule Rule for 2021, which was released last August.

Other therapy services’ cuts include a 7 percent cut from audiologists and a 9 percent cut from speech-language pathologists. 

If CMS institutes the reductions, NASL then will turn to lawmakers for relief. Legislation for appropriations and health extenders, which are due December 11, could be a vehicle for funding for the long-term care therapy specialties, Morton said.

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NASL and AHCA respond

“A reduction in payment of this magnitude is misguided under typical circumstances, but it is truly damaging to patient access during a global pandemic. Upon discharge from the hospital, many COVID-19 patients require therapy for their long-term recovery,” the groups said in a collective statement. 

“Such dramatic cuts proposed in the midst of a pandemic that uniquely impacts older adults with multiple comorbidities is very concerning, as access to care from a variety of providers, including therapists, may be impacted at a time these beneficiaries are on the road back to recovery,” said The American Health Care Association (AHCA)

NASL since then has launched an aggressive campaign against the proposed cuts, which would offset increases CMS has proposed making to other providers, such as endocrinologists, rheumatologists, family practice physicians, and some nurse practitioners (but not those who bill claims for nursing home residents).

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