Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th
Only 6 weeks left until the mid-term elections held on November 6th! Verify with the local election board that you are registered to vote and make a plan for when you will cast your ballot.
ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITY #1
Be sure to complete the ultimate act of civic engagement—voting for those who represent you and your interests. Please don’t miss the voting booth during your travel to the PPS Annual Conference! PPS encourages those who will be traveling to the PPS Conference on election day to apply for an absentee ballot. Deadlines to apply for an absentee ballot vary by state, but can be due as early as 3 weeks prior to election. Visit your state election office website to apply for an absentee ballot before it’s too late!
Speaking Up on Behalf of Private Practice Physical Therapists
On September 10th, PPS filed official comments regarding the 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) proposed rule. PPS comments supported the elimination of functional status reporting requirements, but asked for that elimination to be effective on the date the final rule is published (expected in November), instead of January 1, 2019. Additionally, PPS supported the expansion of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) eligible clinicians to include physical therapists while also praising CMS for maintaining the low-volume thresholds under which most PPS members will be exempt from participating in MIPS at this time.
In the first year of MIPS participation, PTs are only going to be scored in two of the Quality Payment Program (QPP) categories—quality and practice improvement activities. The proposed rule suggested that the weights of the two categories not required will be zeroed out and the weights of the quality portion (at 45%) and performance activities (at 15%) will be redistributed. PPS recommended that the quality category account for 70% of the score and the practice improvement activities make up the additional 30% because this would better enable private practice physical therapists to earn credit for their valuable improvement activities and achieve overall scores that reflect overall quality of care they provide. Additionally, because the Year 3 scoring threshold for achieving neutral payment is 30—ten times that of year one, PPS requested CMS allow those providers added in Year 3 to be granted the same lower performance threshold that was in place for those clinicians participating in MIPS in the first two years.
As you remember, one of the pay-fors in the therapy cap repeal law in February 2018 was a reduction of the payment rate for therapy assistants. The law requires that payment for services furnished in whole or in part by a therapy assistant be 85% of the applicable Part B payment amount for the service, effective January 1, 2022. PPS pushed back and encouraged CMS to consider the manner in which physical therapy services are typically provided when both a physical therapist and a physical therapist assistant are involved in all or part of the patients care and pointed out that requiring the modifier to be applied when any minute of outpatient therapy is delivered by the PTA has serious implications for beneficiary access to care. PPS recommended that CMS hold off and not finalize the definition of “in part” until CY 2020 rulemaking—after it had more robust with rehabilitation therapy stakeholders.
Engage with Candidates for Elected Office
Campaigns are in full swing. The airways are full of campaign ads and you are probably receiving phone calls asking you to vote for a specific candidate. As a PPS Key Contact, you are well prepared to make this into a dialogue instead of a monologue. Keep engaging with your legislator as well as the candidate(s) running for the seat in Congress. With each engagement you enhance a candidate’s understanding of the unique value of physical therapy provided in a private practice setting.
All seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate seats will be contested this fall. Remember that whether or not you engage could impact the laws passed by those in Congress—in order to serve you and the needs of your patients they need to know and understand the legislative and advocacy priorities of the Section. The conversations your fellow PPS Key Contacts have been having with their Members of Congress have worked. This past month we added 4 new cosponsors to the CONNECT for Health Act (H.R.2556/S.1016)—Senator Dan Sullivan (AK) and Representatiaves Kathleen Rice (NY-4), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9), and Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2).
ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITY #2
See the July Legislative Update for templates, talking points, and scripts to use when engaging with candidates. Please take a photo of your meeting and tweet it as a thank you to the Member of Congress/candidate for the meeting, be sure to add #PPSAdvocacy so we can retweet it!
Thank you for your continued advocacy and engagement! For one-pagers, talking points, and information on PPS’s legislative priorities and activities, visit the Advocacy section at www.ppsapta.org