Providers and Medicare Part B beneficiaries were hoping for a reprieve at press time from therapy caps that kicked into full effect when Congress failed to repeal them or extend a broad exceptions process by Jan. 1.

Optimism for a repeal of the 20-year-old therapy caps faded in December as Congress and the White House wrangled with the tax system overhaul.

A bipartisan, bicameral deal to repeal the therapy caps and replace them with a review policy had been agreed to weeks before by healthcare committees, leading to a positive forecast. Although Congress didn’t act, however, there was still reason for optimism. On several occasions previously, the caps kicked into effect only to be erased by retroactive legislation.

The odds of another such deal were favorable at press time as Congressional leaders expressed a preference to deal with healthcare issues like the therapy caps and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and move onto other priorities, said Cynthia Morton, executive vice president of the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care.

“I believe the prospects are good for Congress to repeal the caps this year. It’s a matter of when it’s ready to act on the healthcare legislation including the caps and the other issues,” Morton said.