Provider and Consumer Coalition Requests Relief from Medicare Part B Therapy Assistant Cuts


This week, AHCA/NCAL along with 11 other organizations representing outpatient therapy providers and Medicare beneficiary advocacy groups submitted a letter to Congressional leadership requesting relief from recently imposed 15 percent payment rate cuts for Medicare Part B outpatient therapy services furnished by physical and occupational therapy assistants.    

The letter notes that “The rehabilitation therapy sector continues to be challenged by the devasting impact of COVID-19 as providers continue to provide services during the public health emergency” and that “The therapy workforce is strained particularly in rural and underserved areas, where therapy assistants play a crucial part of the team that helps extend the services of licensed occupational and physical therapists.” 

Specifically, the coalition letter asks Congress to consider including the Stabilizing Medicare Access to Rehabilitation and Therapy (SMART) Act, H.R. 5536 in upcoming legislation. This legislation would: 

  • ​Amend the current burdensome Medicare direct supervision regulatory requirements of therapy assistants in private practice settings, 
  • ​Temporarily suspend the payment differential until January 1, 2023, and  
  • ​​Provide a permanent exemption to the 15% payment differential for rural and underserved areas, which disproportionately rely on services provided by OTAs and PTAs.