Bipartisan Healthcare Bill Includes Unlimited PT and SLP for Medicare Patients
by Sarah Stasik
In early 2018, federal lawmakers announced a bipartisan healthcare budget bill that has positive financial implications for those serving in PT jobs, as well as benefits for patients in need of PT and SLP services.
Among other things, the bill sets out to remove caps on occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language therapy for those on Medicare. Previously, the caps would have limited coverage to $2,010 in benefits for OT services each year and a total of $2,010 per year for both PT and SLP services.
With a growing population over the age of 65, PT jobs and SLP jobs are on the rise. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 28 percent increase in PT jobs through 2026 and an 18 percent increase in SLP jobs. Find your next PT job at MedTravelers and join this growing workforce while seeing new parts of the country.
What does the senate bill mean for patients needing therapy?
Caps on therapy aren’t good for patients who may need ongoing services to help manage chronic illnesses or recovery after serious injuries.
“With elderly patients, a lot of what they’re seeking therapy for may be ongoing issues,” says Alice Gauthreaux, a former PT/OT billing specialist. “When you have caps, they can only get treatment for so long per year, which means patients might not be able to get all the care they need.”
Gauthreaux also says caps can preclude necessary treatment for a second issue if it occurs within the same calendar year. “Caps like this aren’t per injury. If a patient falls and hurts their arm and uses up their benefit with that injury, if they hurt their leg six months later, they may not be able to afford therapy for that new injury.”
In the past, Congress has taken steps to keep caps from coming into play to avoid these problems, but the new healthcare bill would mean caps are no longer a concern and that Medicare patients can get the services they need.
Lack of caps are also good news for SLP and PT Jobs
Lack of caps are obviously good financial news for providers, because that opens more revenue doors. But it’s also great for quality of service.
“The therapists aren’t limited on the level of treatment they can provide,” says Gauthreaux. “Under a cap, they can only do so much for a patient.”
Without caps, therapists don’t have to worry about prioritizing one treatment over another if both are necessary, and those in PT jobs don’t have to compete with those in SLP jobs over the allowed Medicare benefits.