WASHINGTON – Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that physical, speech and occupational therapies are fully covered by the Medicare system. The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act would permanently eliminate arbitrary caps that would prevent many seniors from receiving therapy services they need.
Without congressional action, outpatient therapy services will be restricted to limits of $1,780 a year, with no exceptions allowed. Outpatient therapy is the only service covered by traditional Medicare that comes with financial limitations.
“Rehabilitation therapies are critical to helping so many Americans recover from injuries and debilitating illnesses,” said Sen. Cardin. “We should be helping seniors get the therapy they need so they can resume their normal lives, not putting up road blocks to their recoveries. Year after year, Congress has shown its disapproval for these arbitrary therapy caps with short term fixes. Now it’s time to eliminate them permanently.”
In 1997, Congress imposed a cap on physical therapy and speech-language pathology services and a separate cap on occupational therapy as a purely cost-saving measure. Through several moratoria known as an “exceptions process,” Congress has implemented short-term fixes that only temporarily resolve the problem. Without Congressional action, the caps on outpatient therapy services will go into effect less than one year from today, and beneficiaries will lose access to critical services.
As a Member of the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives, then-Rep. Cardin was the lead Democrat on the companion version of this bill.
Sen. Cardin introduced the bill with Senators John Ensign (R-NV), Blanch Lincoln (D-AR) and Susan Collins (R-ME). It is supported by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), American Occupational Therapy Association, and the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL).