US Congressman Guthrie Visits KORT Bardstown Physical Therapy to Learn About PT Care for Seniors

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US Congressman Guthrie visits KORT Bardstown Physical Therapy to learn about physical therapy care for seniors and to discuss HR Bill to remove therapy cap.

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Our KORT Bardstown team, as well as our community, was ecstatic to host Representative Guthrie and thank him for his support. It was very impactful to have our patients discuss the power physical therapy has had in their lives with Mr. Guthrie.

U.S. Representative for Kentucky's Second congressional district Brett Guthrie visited KORT’s Bardstown clinic on March 10 to see the important role therapy plays for seniors trying to return to functional, independent living.

Guthrie is co-sponsor of House Bill HR 775/S 539, The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act, a bipartisan bill which would permanently repeal the arbitrary outpatient rehabilitation therapy cap currently in place.

According to Robbie Hinkebein, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC with KORT, current legislation discriminates against the most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries and disregards the clinical appropriateness of care. The cap reduces Medicare beneficiaries’ access to timely rehabilitation and causes negative outcomes such as delayed care, reduced independence, increased pain, and an increased cost to Medicare, he said.

"Our KORT Bardstown team, as well as our community, was ecstatic to host Representative Guthrie and thank him for his support. It was very impactful to have our patients discuss the power physical therapy has had in their lives with Mr. Guthrie,” said Hinkebein.

Guthrie Learns About Care from Seniors
Numerous KORT patients turned out to meet with Representative Guthrie and give a first-hand account of their care and how much they have relied on physical therapy to maintain their active and independent lifestyles.

“To be able to take steps without the fear of falling is an incredible improvement,” said KORT Bardstown patient Barbara Thompson. “Since I started Physical Therapy at KORT, I have not had to use my walker at all. However, I’m afraid my time at KORT will be cut short due to the therapy cap. I appreciate Representative Guthrie’s support of people like me.”

Dudley Mattingly of Bardstown said he relied on physical therapy after numerous surgeries as a result of a car accident. He says he would not have been able to return to independent living without it.

Beverly Armstrong, whose husband is a KORT patient said, “Whenever we have a lapse in coverage for therapy, I notice that my husband’s progress is severely hindered and he relies on me to do more for him.”

Patients encouraged Guthrie to continue his fight to repeal the cap and thanked him for his ongoing efforts.

“The current cap on care is simply bad policy that in many cases increases overall healthcare costs while impeding needed patient access. Clinical evidence and research shows that physical therapy as a first course of treatment for multiple conditions provides the best patient outcome and greatest cost savings. A hard therapy cap forces patients into higher-cost interventions such as medications or surgeries to treat a problem better served through physical therapy,” said Hinkebein.

Contact Your Representative
“Medicare patients, families and caregivers are urged to contact their United States Congressmen and Senators and let them know how important physical therapy benefits are to them. Encourage them to sponsor and support legislation that would repeal a bad policy that could cause delayed care, having to choose between necessary services, and a reduction in an individual’s independence in his or her home,” said Hinkebein.

About the Therapy Caps
The therapy caps were created in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act to cut costs necessary to balance the federal budget. Congress has seen the error in this flawed legislation and the potential harm to Medicare beneficiaries and has acted by passing several moratoriums on its enforcement of the caps. In 2006, Congress allowed the therapy caps to go into effect but authorized Medicare to allow exceptions for beneficiaries needing additional rehabilitation services based on diagnosis, clinician evaluation, and judgment. Congress has acted annually to extend these exceptions for beneficiaries, but the exceptions are only authorized through March 31, 2015. Completing House Bill HR 775/S 539 before the March 31 deadline provides an opportunity to end the pattern of yearly extensions that puts access to medically necessary therapy for Medicare beneficiaries at risk.

Kentucky Orthopedic Rehab Team (KORT) has been specializing in outpatient physical and occupational therapy in Kentucky and Southern Indiana for over 25 years. Local ownership and independent operations, allow KORT clinicians to work one-on-one with patients to regain strength, increase flexibility, improve mobility, and reduce pain without drugs or surgery. Selected as a “Best Places to Work in Kentucky” for 11 consecutive years, and with over 40 locations, KORT has the most board certified Orthopedic Specialists and Vestibular Rehabilitation specialists than any other provider in the region. KORT’s certified athletic trainers provide sports medicine services to more than 30 high schools and colleges in Kentucky & Southern Indiana.
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Angie L. Moore
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