October 29, 2019
Current in Noblesville
Prioritize patients Commentary by Rick Austgen Anybody who loves someone on Medicare understands the constant worry that GUEST COLUMN injury or illness could restrict seniors’ mobility, lead to severe pain and degrade their quality of life. Falls, for example, are the No. 1 cause of injury for older Americans, causing 800,000 hospitalizations every year and leading to serious medical complications. Physical therapy is a safe and effective form of treatment used to help patients recover. As a physical therapist in the Noblesville community, I see every day how PT helps seniors improve their mobility, decrease their risk of falling and reduce or even eliminate pain. Unfortunately, federal regulations make it harder for professionals like me to treat the more than 1.2 million Hoosiers (nearly one-fifth of our state’s population) enrolled in Medicare, many of whom need physical therapy. Under current policy, physical therapists are required to jump through redundant regulatory hoops in order to get reimbursed for the care we provide to Medicare beneficiaries. My
office is forced to expend an incredible amount of time and resources in order for Medicare to reimburse us for our care. Why? Because even after a patient is referred to physical therapy by their doctor, we are required to send each individualized care plan back to the referring doctor for their signature. Often, doctors do not understand why they have to sign yet more paperwork. If the patient’s doctor does not sign their plan of care within 30 days of their first treatment, Medicare will not reimburse us. To help reduce regulatory burdens on health care professionals, commonsense reforms are needed. I commend U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (Ind.) for submitting a letter to Medicare supporting regulatory relief. I urge our state’s entire congressional delegation to support policies that balance reasonable reporting requirements with the need to provide Indiana’s seniors with physical therapy services.
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Rick Austgen is a physical trainer and certified athletic trainer. He is a regional manager with Athletico Physical Therapy in Indianapolis.
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