A message from Dena Kilgore, CAE, from APTA:
I wanted to provide an update on the efforts to permanently repeal the hard therapy cap that went into effect January 1. As you know, the federal government had been shut-down since midnight on Friday, January 19 due an impasse on funding the federal government over the lack of a deal to protect young documented immigrants from deportation, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Yesterday, Monday, January 22, Congress passed yet another short-term spending bill that will re-open and provide funding for the government open until Thursday, February 8. The Senate spending deal will also fully fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, ending a nearly four-month lapse in the program’s long-term federal funding. In return, Democrats accepted a pledge from Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring a vote on DACA to the floor if an immigration deal is not reached by Feb. 8. Despite an enormous turnout on social media, phone calls, grassroots, Hill meetings, etc. by APTA, AOTA, ASHA, and partners in the Repeal the Therapy Cap Coalition, the short-term spending deal does not include the permanent fix to repeal the hard therapy cap, nor does it include a whole host of must-pass critical Medicare issues, impacting everything from rural health funding to community health centers.
On Friday there appeared to be a glimmer of hope that the Therapy Cap fix might be added to the short-term spending deal; APTA and our partners had been working with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to have it added to a revised deal that was under discussion with President Trump. Those talks did not produce a deal addressing the broader range of critical issues, including repeal of the Therapy Cap. Two senators who we’d like recognize are Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) who took to the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon to implore his colleague to address the Therapy Cap and other Medicare extenders in the next spending deal that must be passed by February 8. In addition, Sen Stabenow (MI) offered an amendment over the weekend to include the Therapy Cap and other Medicare extenders to the short-term deal.
The message from Capitol Hill continues to be that there is broad agreement to repeal the cap; the bipartisan, bicameral proposal to permanently fix the hard cap appears to be one of the few issues Congress is in agreement on. However CHIP funding and DACA continue to overshadow the politics and process. With the issue of CHIP funding now resolved, Congress can focus on the critical Medicare extenders and Therapy Cap repeal to include in the next spending deal. However until DACA is resolved, it will continue to play a major factor in the work of Congress, and could potentially result in another government shut-down in the near future.
APTA and our partners will continue to wage an aggressive lobbying, social media, paid media, and grassroots efforts between now and February 8. APTA will be sending out additional action alerts to our members this week, and we will continue our push on social media (#StopTheCap).
During this time of uncertainty under the hard cap, APTA is also pushing CMS to provide additional guidance and clarification on their handling of outpatient therapy claims. Most recently CMS provided information that they have been holding all outpatient therapy claims since January 1 that go above the $2,010 cap. CMS is expected to begin processing those claims in the near future, but they have not yet provided a timeline, In addition, CMS has stated that providers should continue to submit claims with the KX modifier, even though the exceptions process is not in place, under the assumption that Congress will retroactively apply the permanently therapy cap fix. APTA issued a FAQ document earlier this month and we will be revising it this week based upon additional expected guidance from CMS.