Physical therapists have been given the 'gift' of maintenance therapy on some patients.
This 'gift' comes wrapped in bureaucratic gobbledeegook but is still an improvement over the dogmatic, no-way, no-how ban on maintenance therapy paid by Medicare that existed prior to February 2, 2009. (note: the FCSO primary geographic jurisdiction is only in the state of Florida)
Skilled Maintenance Therapy for Safety
The specific reference is located on pages 21-22 of the FCSO Local Coverage Determination.
I'll give you an example of the garbled way in which Medicare makes known it's intent:
"If the services required to maintain function involve the use of complex and sophisticated therapy procedures, the judgment and skill of a therapist may be necessary for the safe and effective delivery of such services.The most obvious example in outpatient PT would have us treating patients at risk for, say, falling down in the home - even if the interventions might be construed as low level, 'unskilled' treatments.
When the patient’s safety is at risk, those reasonable and necessary services shall be covered even if the skills of a therapist are not ordinarily needed to carry out the activities preformed as part of the maintenance program."
However, the LCD goes on to say:
"It is not medically necessary for a therapist to perform or supervise maintenance programs that do not require the professional skills of a therapist.The LCD seems to contradict itself: If assessment of falls risk is "complex and sophisticated" then they are skilled.
These situations include: (among others)...repetitive exercises to maintain gait or maintain strength and endurance, and assisted walking, such as that provided in support for feeble and unstable patients."
If strengthening/confidence building exercises to prevent falls could be construed as maintenance, then these services seem to fit the new definition of 'Skilled Maintenance Therapy for Safety'.
It even seems appropriate to set goals for these 'feeble and unstable' patients such as 'No reported falls in 30 days' to measure the impact of our intervention.
Come to think of it, if I've assessed falls risk, constructed goals, designed an exercise plan of care and attempted to measure the impact then maybe I should just treat these people.
Does anybody else read this LCD the way I do?
Maybe next year I'll ask Santa for the gift of gobbledeegook.