Association commends Sens. Cardin and Collins, Reps. Gerlach and Becerra for protecting seniors' access to care
Washington, DC - The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) praised bipartisan legislation introduced today that would permanently repeal caps on therapies seniors receive in skilled nursing centers. The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act was introduced in the Senate (S. 367) by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and in the House of Representatives (H.R. 713) by Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Xavier Becerra (D-CA).
“Long term and post-acute care patients should be assured of receiving the full spectrum of necessary therapies prescribed by their doctors to complete their recovery,” emphasized Gov. Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “Doctors and caregivers should be monitoring patient progress, not a cap, when administering these important therapies to their patients and our residents. On behalf of the entire profession, I commend Senators Cardin and Collins as well as Congressmen Gerlach and Becerra for their leadership in this important fight.”
Created as a part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the therapy cap places an annual $1,900 financial limit on payment for outpatient therapy services under Medicare Part B. Physical therapy and speech language pathology services are under a combined cap and another cap is applied to occupational therapy. Created out of a need to balance the federal budget, the cap policy was not based on data and was applied without consideration for quality of care or clinical judgment. This legislation would permanently end these limitations and ultimately protect the frail, elderly and persons with disabilities from the adverse and potentially onerous effects caused when they ether suspend or cutback on therapy because they reach the arbitrary cap.
Skilled nursing care centers serve high acuity patients who are often the most chronically ill and require significant therapy services. The present statute governing therapy caps is not clinically driven and contrary to the federal government’s own nursing home reforms in the late 1980s that called on nursing facilities to ensure patients attain the highest level of functioning possible.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represent more than 12,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahca.org or www.ncal.org.