How will PTA salaries be effected from the proposed Medicare decrease in reimbursement for PT services?

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Comments (35)

Lee in Cumberland, Maryland

58 months ago

March 1, 2010 PT services are looking at a 21% reduction for services rendered. This is offset, however, with a 10% increase in PE payments which makes the net loss at 11%. Will this affect PTAs salary at all? I guess this could also be asked as how are PTAs salaries determined? Is it tied into the reimbursement of PT services or more just the supply and demand of PTAs?

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mimmik in Boulder, Colorado

58 months ago

that's a great question - after seeing so many sources saying the demand for PTAs will grow hugely in the next decade, i'm looking at starting a PTA degree this year. but if the job future is actually going to be less stable, maybe i should try something else...

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Lee in Cumberland, Maryland

57 months ago

mimmik in Boulder, Colorado said: that's a great question - after seeing so many sources saying the demand for PTAs will grow hugely in the next decade, i'm looking at starting a PTA degree this year. but if the job future is actually going to be less stable, maybe i should try something else...

Great question which could possibly greatly impact the salary of PTAs yet no response.

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it comes in waves in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

57 months ago

I think it comes in waves - at one point it was hot then no so much now it's hot and I suspect with now all the schools opening for PTAs and the changes in healthcare that it will not be so hot soon.

I may have to go to school for a 3rd degree - not lookin' forward to it.

I know someone who has been laid off for 6 weeks. Can not find a place that is hiring and those few that are, are doing so on a VERY part time basis, 10-20 hours a week.

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Lee in Cumberland, Maryland

57 months ago

Wouldn't a decrease in reimbursement require an extra need for PTAs to perform the treatments? I guess the PT departments could just use aides, but doesn't the PTAs offer some type of billing benefit to the PT practice?

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Aphex in Falls Church, Virginia

57 months ago

Lee in Cumberland, Maryland said: Wouldn't a decrease in reimbursement require an extra need for PTAs to perform the treatments? I guess the PT departments could just use aides, but doesn't the PTAs offer some type of billing benefit to the PT practice?

The answer is yes, since insurance companies only reimburse for services rendered by a skilled therapist ( PT/PTA). PT aids are not "skilled" individuals, nor are they therapists. They take care of the non-skilled aspect of treatments like setting the treatment areas, scheduling patients, doing the laundry, etc.. these duties could be done by any person with no prior experience/education. PT aides will not replace PTAs and the demand for PTAs will definitely keep growing because they help make PT services more affordable.

I hope that helps.

Ashraf

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Lee in Cumberland, Maryland

57 months ago

Are the treatments performed by PTAs at the same rate as PTs? Is this only true with Medicare or is it also true with other third-party payers?

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Aphex in Falls Church, Virginia

57 months ago

I know that PTAs can perform most, if not all treatments performed by PTs. And insurance companies don't discriminate in pay based on being a PT/PTA. It's the same level of skill/service whether it's delivered by a PT or a PTA. PTs are required by laws in various states to reevaluate and see patients at certain time intervals. Patients can't just keep getting treatments from PTAs indefinitely, without a PT checking to make sure these services are really needed. That's true with Medicare as well as other insurance companies. If Medicare accepts something, be sure that other companies will follow it almost blindly.

~Ashraf

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Lee in Cumberland, Maryland

57 months ago

So it looks like both PTAs and PTs salary is looking to decrease from this cut. Hate to be debbie downer over hear. It just looks like its inevitable.

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Aphex in Falls Church, Virginia

57 months ago

Lee,
What are the sources of your information about that alleged reduction in reimbursement? I don't think the salaries of PTs/PTAs will go down because of this. There will be many ways to work around it and even make more money.

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Lee in Cumberland, Maryland

57 months ago

mmm... I'm having issues posting. I had to take away the links. The info is on the APTA official website though.

I believe outpatient PT would be effected the most. The date was originally set for Jan, 1 2010. It was pushed back to Feb 28, 2010. They've been pushing the date back for a while because Physician's claim they would have to stop accepting Medicare patients if the cut went into effect. It's inevitable something needs to cut back because the current model is unsustainable. Ask a PT you know about it. I'm sure they could fill you in on more details. I really wonder sometimes the logic going on in the policy maker's heads. It seems to me that figuring out a way to tackle the fraud issue would have much more of an effect than decreasing the reimbursement of the providers. I think the value is 60 billion/year for medicare fraud. Why not figure that out? It eludes me.

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Jamie in Independence, Kansas

57 months ago

I have been a PTA since 1981. I was recently laid off of the best job I have ever had in an outpatient PT clinic because of the new medicare cutback which according to the PT limits severely treatment by PTAs to medicare patients. The whole thing is a mess and the biggest losers are the patients. Unless you plan to work in a hospital setting, PTA jobs are scarce.

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Aphex in Falls Church, Virginia

57 months ago

Jamie in Independence, Kansas said: I have been a PTA since 1981. I was recently laid off of the best job I have ever had in an outpatient PT clinic because of the new medicare cutback which according to the PT limits severely treatment by PTAs to medicare patients. The whole thing is a mess and the biggest losers are the patients. Unless you plan to work in a hospital setting, PTA jobs are scarce.

Sorry to hear that man. Any other PTAs out there who care to share their experience as well regarding this alleged Medicare cuts?

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Aphex in Falls Church, Virginia

57 months ago

If the new Health Care Reform has not been signed yet into a law, how come we are already seeing people getting laid off because of Medicare cuts claims? This is just ridiculous.

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Lynn in Dearborn, Michigan

57 months ago

This seems so odd. In Michigan - (the worse state ever for unemployment right now) - I haven't heard of many PTA layoffs. In fact 100% of the PTA students in 2 local colleges were placed into jobs their last semester. I attend one of these schools and they currently have 15+/- postings for PTA jobs right now.

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Lee in Cumberland, Maryland

57 months ago

Medicare caps for rehabilitation services is at $1860/year per beneficiary. The cap includes services rendered for all PT, OT, and speech therapy. What's feeling the hit the most is outpatient clinics and nursing homes. I'm not sure why PTAs would be laid off. I guess lack of demand for services. Jamie what was the reasoning for the lay off if you don't mind me asking?

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Aphex in Falls Church, Virginia

57 months ago

Jamie in Independence, Kansas said: Lee, I was told it was because of downsizing. The PT tried to say it was because Medicare regulations would not allow PTA's to work on Medicare patients in a private practice clinic, but I know that was balogna, to put it nicely. I live in a small community in Southeast Kansas, and the only job openings are at SNFs. I am almost 56 years old with 30 plus years experience in geriatrics, my body can't handle the heavy lifting any more, so the out-patient clinic was perfect.

Jamie, I'm sorry you lost your job. Have you considered traveling or home health? or even pediatrics where there is not much lifting? I think you still can handle SNF if you workout and get some strength, along with using good body mechanics. Don't get me wrong! I'm not trying to tell you what to do, as you obviously have more experience/knowledge of the field than me. I'm just trying to help! I used to be weaker with no energy, but since I started going to the gym and doing some strength training, I'm more energetic and stronger. Even my back pain is gone. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

~Ashraf

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Jamie in Independence, Kansas

57 months ago

Ashraf, thanks for the advice. I do exercise and am very strong. I'm just little: 5'1" and 118#.My instructors in college told my my size would work against me, but I didn't take it seriously as I am a little dog who thinks she can do anything the big dogs can do. My body mechanics are impecable, but they can't always protect you from unpredictable patients or incredibly cramped patient rooms. They also don't protect you from osteoporosis and compression fractures. I think my years of doing PT are past and I will miss it. I am currently finishing up my bathelors in psychology and will be making a career change, I just hadn't planned on it this soon as I was hoping the job I had would last another 8 months.

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Aphex in Falls Church, Virginia

57 months ago

Jamie,
I'm sure you still can find a job in outpatient. Don't give up so easily! I lost my jobs so many times, but I never quit! I think PT is way better than psychology. I mean with a B.S. in psychology you still can't have a job. You still will need a masters. Many of my classmates in the PTA program have B.S. in psychology and they say it's totally useless without a masters. Hang in there for a while and keep looking. Good luck!

Ashraf

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mimmik in Boulder, Colorado

57 months ago

Jamie, I'm also sorry to hear of your job situation! Bu I also really appreciate all the info you and others are adding to this thread for those of us who are trying to decide whether or not to go into the PTA field or not.

Best of luck with whatever you decide to do - sometimes curveballs like that end up to be the silver lining that leads to something else even better.... :)

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Jamie in Independence, Kansas

57 months ago

To mimmik in Boulder, don't let my comments turn you away from being a PTA. Being a PTA was the best thing I ever did or I wouldn't have stayed with it for more than 30 years. I know if I lived in a large metropolitin area like Boulder there would be more opportunities, but I live in a small city of about 9,000. I moved from Kansas City to work at Mercy Hospital and was there for 7 years. I left because it turned into a money grubbing gestapo where the bottom line became more important than the people. My experiences with my patients is what made being a PTA so fun. I will still be working with patients, just in a different capacity. And I do plan to get my masters.

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Jill Heitzman, PT, DPT, GCS, CWS, FACCWS in Opelika, Alabama

56 months ago

Aphex in Falls Church, Virginia said: Sorry to hear that man. Any other PTAs out there who care to share their experience as well regarding this alleged Medicare cuts?

Unfortunately, many PT's and their supervisors are confusing the issue between PTA's and PT aides/techs. Medicare does reimburse for PTA treatments not PT Aides or techs.

Jill

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Lee in Cumberland, Maryland

56 months ago

Jill Heitzman, PT, DPT, GCS, CWS, FACCWS in Opelika, Alabama said: Unfortunately, many PT's and their supervisors are confusing the issue between PTA's and PT aides/techs. Medicare does reimburse for PTA treatments not PT Aides or techs.

Jill

I'm not understanding this statement. So PTs and their supervisors are accidentally laying off PTAs instead of PT aides/techs? Is the statement saying PTAs aren't getting laid off because they provide revenue while the PT aides are getting laid off because they don't?

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J Tom in California

56 months ago

To All PTA's out there. Look in the journals. You'll find many openings for PTA's for traveling or within your states and possibly close by where you live. In the journals you'll see hundreds of jobs out there for PT's. Believe me, there aren't enough PT's to go around. Now that most schools are requiring a Doctoral degree, there still won't be enough PT's to go around. The baby boomers are beginning to retire. Which means there is going to be a greater demand for PTA's. If you see an opening for a PT, ask how long they've been looking for a PT first, and then see if they are interested in a good PTA. Hang in there!

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Chitra in Plymouth, Michigan

55 months ago

Lynn in Dearborn, Michigan said: This seems so odd. In Michigan - (the worse state ever for unemployment right now) - I haven't heard of many PTA layoffs. In fact 100% of the PTA students in 2 local colleges were placed into jobs their last semester. I attend one of these schools and they currently have 15+/- postings for PTA jobs right now.

Hi Lynn, I am in Michigan just recently got my license am looking for pta home care jobs, do u know what is a good rate current for licensed pta's in michigan, pls do reply to me at gidwani.chitra@gmail.com

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Trisha in Plymouth, Michigan

49 months ago

Family Home Health Services www.fhhs.us is hiring!

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Joy in Omaha, Nebraska

40 months ago

mimmik in Boulder, Colorado said: Jamie, I'm also sorry to hear of your job situation! Bu I also really appreciate all the info you and others are adding to this thread for those of us who are trying to decide whether or not to go into the PTA field or not.

Best of luck with whatever you decide to do - sometimes curveballs like that end up to be the silver lining that leads to something else even better.... :)

Since I am in the same boat you were in at the time you wrote this post, I want to know if you went ahead with PTA school? Thanks!

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Benjamin Gilbert MSPT in Saint Petersburg, Florida

35 months ago

Lee in Cumberland, Maryland said: March 1, 2010 PT services are looking at a 21% reduction for services rendered. This is offset, however, with a 10% increase in PE payments which makes the net loss at 11%. Will this affect PTAs salary at all? I guess this could also be asked as how are PTAs salaries determined? Is it tied into the reimbursement of PT services or more just the supply and demand of PTAs?
Lee, of course your salary will be affected if your employer sustains such a severe cut. Typically profit margins in any business are between 10 and 20%. You cut 10% to 20% of their remuneration and guess what...your employer still has to make a profit. If you think that is evil...ask what the alternative is...I'll fill in the blanks...no job, no company. What are his options...go to the landlord and request a change in his lease...maybe but not likely, renegoiate his health insurance contract...maybe but not likely...reduce your salary...there you go. And don't hate him for it. Clinicians are are the people that ask such silly questions. They are also the ones who do not give to their local or national PAC to fight the cuts.

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PT in Orlando, Florida

32 months ago

The policy that will affect PTAs is the RC 3-11. Look it up and do some research. It is supposed to go into effect in July 2012, where it will enable Athletic Trainers and Massage Therapist to do the jobs of PTAs, whom which can be paid much less than PTAs.

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karen in Baltimore, Maryland

27 months ago

Massage therapist, and athletic trainers doing the PTA JOB MUST BE
IN fLORIDA NOT IN MARYLAND

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anonymous in Harrison, New Jersey

27 months ago

PT in Orlando, Florida said: The policy that will affect PTAs is the RC 3-11. Look it up and do some research. It is supposed to go into effect in July 2012, where it will enable Athletic Trainers and Massage Therapist to do the jobs of PTAs, whom which can be paid much less than PTAs.

the APTA does not dictate what gets reimbursed and by who. They are an organization, insurance companies follow laws and regulations; APTA cannot set state wide laws. RC 3-11 IS NOT A LAW, rather a motion set forth by the APTA which has nothing to with reimbursements. in other words, just because the APTA passed their "law" doesn't mean its recognized by any state. in case it does, it will take YEARS.

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anonymous in Harrison, New Jersey

27 months ago

also, clinics that do employ other personnel besides PTAs will not get reimbursed based on the existing laws and regs set forth by insurance companies.

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Benjamin in Saint Petersburg, Florida

27 months ago

The Physical Therapy community would have proponents and opponents to a law limiting the ability of non PTA / PT staff performing reimbursed services. Before endorsing such a policy consider the existing cuts to reimbursement. Essentially, the clinic owner would then shoulder both cuts and new regulations that increase their costs. Reflecting back on my previous comments...when there are more profits in a business there is more money to go around to employees and the opposite is also true. So potentially, such a change could create more PT / PTA jobs and lower salaries. Also notable is that with the increasing numbers of elderly who require services and the decreasing amounts of funding to pay for Heatlh Care, the chances are that low quality, low cost models may be endorsed.

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Benjamin in Saint Petersburg, Florida

27 months ago

Another policy that is getting serious consideration presently is whether Medicare will trash reimbursement therapy levels that are in current practice for Home Health Care. Instead, CMS will pay for the Case Mix diagnosis only. This means that the Home Health Agency will simply get a lump sum for caring for a patient without any consideration for the number of therapy visits provided. If this payment strategy is implemented it will certainly have a downward shift on therapy utilization and cause a great deal of unemployment in therapist ranks. Notably, the head of Medicare that President Obama installed is a British system advocate and is extremely Physician centric. Although I respect individual political differences, be certain that the upcoming Presidential election will have a serious impact on the viability of PT, OT and ST as professions in the future. I was around in 2000 when the Therapy Cap was installed...it was not a pretty sight in Florida with many, many therapists unemployed...myself one of them. We all have invested a great deal of money in our educatons and I think it would be prudent for everybody to understand precisely what they are voting for in November.

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Looking for a traveling job in florida in Orlando, Florida

22 months ago

Any work???? I'm a good hard working PTA/WCC

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