Thursday, November 16, 2006

Republican-held Congress fails to support seniors, Medicare for seniors capped in 2007

On the eve of the elections, the United States Congress, previously controlled by the Republican party, failed to enact legislation to stop Medicare caps on speech and physical therapy. A person in need of outpatient physical or speech therapy will be severely limited starting January 1st, 2007.

Who are these people in need of physical or speech therapy?

You see, after a serious surgery, you need to rehabilitate. For instance, after a knee surgery, you need to strengthen your muscles, exercise, and other long term treatments to bring it back to full functionality.

Almost 1 out of 7 senior patients require such treatments. People with hip surgeries for instance will take several months to heal. Physical therapy increases the likelihood of functionality and often times reduces the length of time to heal.

What's happening on January 1st, 2007?
On January 1st, 2007, patients will only be allowed $1,700 worth of treatments from outpatient clinics. That means for most patients, 3-4 weeks of treatments and from there, they can no longer go to the clinic. Instead of months to heal and rehab in a specialized facility, they are given weeks.

Why does Congress ignore the elderly?
The problem is, the elderly doesn't make their voices heard. I receive AARP news bulletins and there's even barely a sentence covering this. So often times, they won't know this problem exist until its too late -- when they are on the wheelchair wanting to be able to walk again but they can't because the government won't pay for their rehab. Additionally, due to enormous commitments elsewhere in the world, Congress has to re-allocate its resources from helping its senior citizens.

Well Congress got some drug plans out!
Physical therapy brings someone back to functionality and removes the pain, and often times saves a patient from going to surgery. This means less surgeries and less dependency on pain medication. In other words, Congress limited the ability to fix the pain by therapy and instead supported the drug industry's route which hides the pain (not fix it).

What can I do?
Ask your congressman or senator to support S. 3912/HR 6132, which effectively puts an exception process to therapy caps. Write, call, e-mail, or fax. January 1st, 2007 is coming around the corner.

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