2003-02-01 / Columnists

Eye On Physical Therapy

By Tim Rohrs

By Tim Rohrs

Timothy Rohrs, P.T. is a NYS Licensed Physical Therapist, Director of Sands Point Physical Therapy and is currently working towards a clinical doctorate degree at S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook.

Every day decisions are made which directly affect how I perform my job as a physical therapist and as a result affects you, the patient. These decisions are being made by our elected officials, federal programs such as Medicare, insurance companies and HMO's. We are under the mistaken assumption that these entities are here for our benefit, to help when we are sick or incapacitated; to help get us on the road to health.

We already knew that private, for profit insurance companies and HMO's are more concerned with profit than your health. Our elected officials are another story. We count on them to act on our behalf and in our best interests. When they drop the ball, it is our right and our responsibility to let them know about it.

Congress adjourned November 22, 2002 without acting on legislation to extend the moratorium in implementation of the $1,500.00 Medicare therapy caps. This cap limits the Medicare beneficiary to a total of $1500.00 per calendar year in Physical and Speech Therapy Benefits. Because Congress left for the holidays without voting on this bill, as of January 1, 2003 the caps are back in effect. This attempt to balance the budget comes at the expense of our communities' most vulnerable: the sick and elderly. Now an elderly person who experiences a stroke is allowed $750.00 per year each of outpatient Physical Therapy and $750.00 Speech Therapy. If you have ever met someone who has been devastated by the effects of a stroke, you know that months and sometimes years of rehab are necessary to get that person functioning again. This cap on services will have little affect on the person who is experiencing shoulder pain while golfing. This cap punishes and denies treatment to those that need it the most.

Our community has been especially hard hit in the last 2 years. With Rockaways large population of seniors, again we suffer. I urge all of you to write to Senators Schumer and Clinton and Representatives Meeks and Weiner and voice your opinions. Their addresses may be found on page 4 of this week's Wave.

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