Long-term care stakeholders were left searching for bright spots after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued the 2022 Physician Fee Schedule final rule in early November.

As had been warned, potentially “devastating” 15% pay cuts for work by therapy assistants were included, leaving advocates another uphill battle to get them removed or softened. Last year, similar 9% cuts were eased after aggressive lobbying.

Pay cuts are slated for outpatient occupational and physical therapy services provided, in whole or in part, by an occupational or physical therapy assistant.

“With margins razor thin, this reduction literally means that often the cost for an assistant to provide services is often more than the amount of reimbursement,” Melissa Brown, COO of Gravity Healthcare Consulting, told McKnight’s. “This is, unfortunately, squelching the value of assistants and endangering their careers.”

Brown added that the 2,414-page rule doesn’t address that the 3.75% COVID bonus from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 is also disappearing, which will effectively yield “a significantly more than the 1% cut for PT, OT and [speech therapy] listed in the final rule.