SOURCE: American Physical Therapy Assocation

July 22, 2005 12:29 ET

US District Court Dismisses NATA Suit Against HHS and CMS

Physical Therapists Support HHS, CMS, and Requirements for Physical Therapy to Be Provided Only by Physical Therapists

ALEXANDRIA, VA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 22, 2005 -- The US District Court in Dallas, Texas, today dismissed a suit filed by the National Athletic Trainer Association against the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Secretary of HHS, and the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The dismissal makes way for CMS to implement rules that assure Medicare beneficiaries will receive physical therapy services from qualified physical therapists in physician offices.

In the Memorandum Opinion and Order, the document which dismisses the suit, the court declared it "is not convinced that physicians have a protected interest in utilizing 'auxiliary personnel' to perform therapy services."

The suit sought to overturn regulations issued last November by CMS that established personnel qualifications for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech pathology services provided "incident to" the services of a physician in a physician's office. Those standards, based on provisions adopted by Congress in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, require that all outpatient physical therapy services be provided by individuals who are trained specifically in physical therapy.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) strongly agrees with Congress and CMS and supports both the statutory and regulatory requirements to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries will receive physical therapy services only from qualified physical therapists. In late June, APTA submitted to the court an amicus brief in support of the implementation of those requirements.

"This decision will protect patient safety and ensure that Medicare beneficiaries receive high quality physical therapy services. We will continue to pursue every appropriate option available to ensure that these expectations are fulfilled and that adequate safeguards are enforced," said APTA President Ben F Massey, Jr, PT, MA.

The American Physical Therapy Association is a national professional organization representing more than 66,000 members. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapy practice, research, and education.

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