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Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Released

CMS Accepts PT Practice Expense Data in Fee Schedule Rule

Payments to physical therapists will be increased by 2% beginning March 1, 2003, reflecting the acceptance by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of practice expense survey data submitted by APTA. The practice expense payments are part of the long-awaited final rule on the Medicare 2003 Physician Fee Schedule, released today by CMS. The rule, which will be published December 31 in the Federal Register, also reduces payments for all services paid under the fee schedule by 4.4%. Thus, the net effect for payments to physical therapists will be minus 2.4%, a less severe reduction than other Part B providers will experience. A detailed summary of the major provisions of the fee schedule will be posted on APTA's Web site on January 3.

The final rule notes that claims for outpatient rehabilitation services rendered on or after January 1, 2003, will be subject to the $1,500 cap, and that carriers and intermediaries will receive implementation instructions in a separate program memorandum. Based on this statement, APTA recommends that members keep track of outpatient therapy expenditures per Medicare beneficiary beginning January 1. The rule also authorizes carriers and intermediaries to enroll physical therapists and occupational therapists who are employed in physicians' offices as therapists in private practice, if state law permits. For an update on
this story, see next Friday's PT Bulletin Online.

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