Tag: health care

Therapy Cap Repeal Could be ‘In Jeopardy’: Action Needed

Repeal of the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) may be closer than ever to becoming reality, but will a permanent fix to the therapy cap be left behind? APTA and a coalition of providers and consumers have ramped up calls for grassroots action to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Late last week, House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that they were working together on legislation that would permanently end the SGR formula instead of working out yet another temporary “doc fix” and punting the issue for another year. If Congress doesn’t act on the SGR by March 31, Medicare providers would face a 21% cut to Medicare payments.

Full story of therapy cap in jeopardy at APTA

Referral to Physical Therapy Lowers Care Utilization for LBP vs Referral for Imaging

A recently published study of patients with new low back pain (LBP) who received referral from a primary care provider concludes that not only is physical therapy a less expensive next step than advanced imaging, it’s an approach that results in lower utilization costs over time.

Researchers Julie M. Fritz, PT, PhD, FAPTAGerard P. Brennan, PT, PhD, andStephen J. Hunter, PT, PhD, OCS, analyzed utilization records and other health information for 841 individuals who consulted with a primary provider about uncomplicated LBP and were referred for management outside primary care within 6 weeks. Of those individuals, 385 received advanced imagining and 377 received physical therapy (the remaining 79 patients received a physician specialist visit or “other care,” including chiropractic). The study focused on records obtained from 21 different providers around Salt Lake City, Utah, between 2004 and 2010.

Full story of referrals for PT care utilization at APTA

US Census: Median PT Earnings Nearly $10k Lower for Women than Men in 2013

Women may make up 64% of the physical therapist (PT) workforce, but in 2013, they earned about 88% of what male PTs made, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau.

The report issued on March 16 tracks employment and earnings data across professions, and divides them in to major sectors. The PT pay disparities are smaller than the average for health care professions in general, which combined showed that women make about 70.3% of what is paid to men. Data on physical therapist assistants were not included as a distinct line item.

Full story of PT earnings for women at APTA

LA Times: Treatment of Back Pain, Use of PTs an Example of How Big Seattle Employers Are Changing Health Care

A recent Los Angeles Times (LAT) article focuses on back pain and the use of physical therapists (PTs) to show how Seattle-area employers such as Boeing and Starbucks have worked with providers in their employee health care systems “to meet the kind of rigorous standards they use to build airplanes or brew coffee.” The story features a system at Virginia Mason Medical Center that has been in place for several years.

LAT reporter Noam Levey writes that by managing employee insurance health care providers as they would any other supplier, these companies are now bringing some of their own quality assurance approaches to health care. According to Levey, “the results include better health, higher patient satisfaction, and in some cases lower costs, making the community a model as employers and governments nationwide look for ways to improve care.”

Full story of treatment for backpain and use of PTs, visit APTA

Foundation Ready to Make Center of Excellence a Reality; Announcement Coming in February

The Foundation for Physical Therapy is poised to make the dream of a physical therapist-focused Center of Excellence (COE) a reality with its February announcement of the $2.5 million grant recipient to launch and manage the COE.

The Center of Excellence for Health Services and Health Policy Research and Training will be dedicated to expanding the number of physical therapist (PT) scientists specializing in health services and health policy research. The groundbreaking initiative will provide PTs accepted into the program with training and skills necessary to examine the most effective ways to deliver, organize, and finance health care delivery.

Full story of COE at APTA

PTNow Blog: Getting Beyond the Headlines

The latest PTBlog Now explores the complicated dynamics involved when mainstream media covers sometimes-complex health care issues, and uses coverage of APTAs Choosing Wisely list as an example.

“As great as it is when mainstream media outlets bring new health care research to the consumer forefront, sometimes the arrow doesn’t quite hit the target,” is how the blog describes what happened when National Public Radio (NPR) picked up on the association’s list of “5 Things Physical Therapists and Patients Should Question.”

APTA’s recommendation was, “Don’t employ passive physical agents except when necessary to facilitate participation in an active treatment program,” and like all items on the list, the recommendation included citations to evidence supporting the statement.

Full story of mainstream media on health care issues at APTA

Deal on VA Includes Money for More Providers, New Facilities

After weeks of appearing to be another victim of a gridlocked Congress, a bill to improve access to health care in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system is now poised for a vote in both chambers.

Called the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, the compromise bill was reached by leaders of the Senate and House veterans affairs committees, and was developed in response to news early this year of lengthy wait times—and alleged administrative efforts to cover up those waits—for patients in the VA system. The issue sparked congressional hearings and ultimately led to the resignation of then-VA head Eric Shinseki, but legislative efforts to address the problem seemed to stall as the summer wore on.

Full story of VA bill for health care at APTA

Innovative Physical Therapy Models Chosen for Further APTA Support

Following a rigorous review that included a “Shark Tank” like workshop and critique in May. APTA has announced the finalists in its Innovation 2.0 initiative. Through the program, APTA will provide funding and in-kind services over a 12-month period to help advance these innovative models of care delivery that highlight the value of physical therapist services.

In return, APTA will be able to access model data that potentially helps the association develop and disseminate templates and other resources that enable members throughout the country to promote the impact of physical therapy in the emerging health care environment—a strategic priority of the association.

Full story of PT models for support at APTA

Wasteful Care in Medicare ‘Substantial and Widespread’

Medicare beneficiaries “commonly” undergo tests and procedures that are of little benefit and could cost the system more than $8 billion a year, according to authors of a new study of 1.36 million beneficiaries. Though researchers say that the findings are “consistent with the notion that wasteful practices are pervasive in the US health care system,” gauging the actual magnitude of the problem—and pinning down costs to Medicare—is not easy.

The study, published in the May 13 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, analyzes the use of “low value” services in cancer screening, diagnostic and preventive testing, preoperative testing, imaging, cardiovascular testing, and surgical procedures by way of 26 claims-based measures applied to Medicare claims from 2009. The services were chosen based on recommendations in the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation’s “Choosing Wisely” campaign, as well as other agencies. APTA is 1 of the first 3 non-physician groups that will be participating in the Choosing Wisely campaign.

Full story of wasteful care in medicare at APTA

Lower Health Care Increases for Adults 65 and Up May Be Linked to Shift to Home-Based Care

In an overall spending picture researchers describe as “relatively stable” between 2002 and 2010, health care spending among adults 65 and older grew at a rate lower than all other age groups studied—a slowdown partly attributed to a Medicaid shift away from institutional care settings and toward home-based care.

The findings, e-published in the May 6 edition of Health Affairs, analyzed health care spending over a 9-year period in aggregate as well as by age and sex. Overall, authors wrote, personal health care spending in the US was approximately $2.2 trillion, or $7,097 per person in 2010—an amount that represents an average 5.1% annual growth rate from 2002.

Full story of lower health care for 65 above at APTA