Federal Advocacy Update - April 2021

Congressional Update:

  • A few recent bill introductions of note:
    • Prevent Interruption in Physical Therapy (H.R. 1611) introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY). Would expand the use of Locum Tenens under Medicare to PTs in all geographical areas (currently only PTs in rural/underserved areas can use locum tenens).
    • Medicare Patient Empowerment Act (S. 826), legislation that would permit physical therapists to privately contract with Medicare beneficiaries. S. 826 has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
    • Physical Activity Recommendations for American Acts (H.R. 2094) introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. David McKinley (R-WV). Legislation would ensure that the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are revised and updated regularly to provide the most up-to-date information. A senate companion is expected to be introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) in the near future.

Extension of 2% Medicare Sequestration Moratorium:

  • Medicare Sequestration began in 2013 as a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act. A spending mechanism aimed at deficit reduction. Since 2013, -2% reduction automatically applied to all Medicare payments.
  • CARES Act of 2020 - the first major COVID-19-related relief legislation — included a temporary moratorium on the 2% sequestration reduction, with a Dec. 31, 2020, expiration date. In December Congress extended that expiration to March 31, 2021.
  • Senate compromise led by Sens. Jean Shaheen (D-NH), and Susan Collins (R-ME), extends moratorium on sequestration through Dec. 31, 2021.
  • House returns April 13 and is expected to pass. Biden expected to sign.
  • Two to three-week gap beginning April 1 till enactment when Sequestration will technically be back in effect.

Telehealth Bill Introduction:

  • Expanded Telehealth Access Act (H.R. 2168) introduced by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and David McKinley (R-WV).
  • Would add PTs and PTAs, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists as authorized providers of telehealth under Medicare beyond the PHE
  • For information on cosponsors for all bills please visit congress.gov and searching for the bill number, or check the APTA Advocacy App.

Regulatory Update:

  • Welcome/congratulatory letters: HHS Secretary, Surgeon General, ONC National Coordinator
  • CMS: Feedback on rehabilitation agency guidance
  • Upcoming meetings: Dept. of Education Office of Special Education Programs and ONC National Coordinator with Peds Academy president.
  • Check out the Medicare payment timeline in the slides and stay tuned for advocacy/comment opportunities. We’ve been meeting with/corresponding with CMS since January on Medicare cuts and reiterating our concerns. We will also be meeting with Sec. Becerra and other leadership.
  • Stay tuned for more rules coming out in the coming months and for opportunities for you to comment (SNFs, hospitals, etc.)
  • CMS guidance on application of CQ modifier
    • APTA concerned that guidance does not align w/ finalized policy and we are working with CMS to revise such guidance
  • Information Blocking
    • Released practice advisory a few weeks ago. Rules prohibiting information blocking take effect April 5, 2021.
    • Applies to health care providers, health IT developers of certified health IT, and health information networks and exchanges; 8 exceptions
    • Information blocking resources
  • Opportunities for Comments/Engagement
  • HIPAA proposed rule: HHS proposing significant changes to HIPAA that make it easier to share data (Comments due May 6)
  • VA criteria for developing recommendations for future of veterans’ health care RFI (Comments due May 1)
  • Visit Regulatory Action Center