On midnight January 19, 2018, funding for the federal government expired. The government shut down for 3 days, but reopened on Monday January 22nd when Congress passed a 3-week patch which included 6 years of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Congress is now preparing another federal spending bill before the short-term patch expires on Feb. 8th. We are hearing that this funding bill is likely to include the Extenders Package and the therapy cap repeal language.
Therapy Cap On November 15th, the House Ways and Means Committee released their Extenders Package which includes the language to repeal the therapy cap. We have been told that this Extenders Package will be part of the government funding bill that must be considered before February 8th. However, nothing is for certain so we are focusing our lobbying efforts on this important issue.
Members of Congress are showing their support for the bipartisan Medicare Access toRehabilitation Services Act (H.R.807/S.253) by continuing to join the bill as cosponsors. The House bill gained seven more signatories since the beginning of January and has 236 cosponsors. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) joined the bill on January 3rd so there are now 37 cosponsors in the Senate. The current exceptions mechanism expired on December 31, 2017.
ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITY #1
You received Advocacy Alerts in mid-January-thank you for your responsive outreach efforts. It is important to keep up the pressure and reach out regularly to make sure your legislators understand how important it is to permanently repeal the therapy cap. We are so close to the finish line!
Continue to call, email, and use social media to contact your Representative and both Senators. Ask them to cosponsor the Medicare Access toRehabilitation Services Act (H.R.807/S.253) if they haven't already; also request that they ask Congressional leadership to include the Extenders Package in any legislation that is moving.
As part of the Therapy Cap Coalition, PPS is working on a "thunderclap" to build up the social media pressure and outcry regarding the therapy cap-the more people that participate, the more visibility the push gets. Please sign up here by January 30th.
We also need powerful stories that will compel members to fix this issue. Please send examples of patients who have surpassed 2018's $2010 threshold. For example: What was the injury or disease process that resulted in your patient requiring so much care? What was your experience with the exemptions process? Please cc your lobbyist, Alpha Lillstrom Cheng (firstname.lastname@example.org) on the email to your legislators so that we may create a bank of powerful examples.
Department of Health and Human Services On January 24th, the Senate confirmed Alex Azar to be the new Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Azar is familiar with the Agency, having formerly served as HHS Deputy Secretary and General Counsel under President George W. Bush and has deep Indiana connections having worked closely with both Vice President Pence and CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
During Azar's January 9th appearance before the Senate Finance Committee, he stated his support for Affordable Care Act's innovation program and mandatory pilots to test new payment models. He said, "we must make healthcare more affordable, more available, and more tailored to what individuals want and need in their care." We will be monitoring the Agency's proposed regulations that impact private practice physical therapy and PPS members.
As always, thank you for your continued advocacy and engagement!