Department of Labor Abuses Rulemaking Authority?
Last year, the department adopted provisions in the fee schedule that paid physical therapists treating workers' compensation patients less if they worked for a "physician affiliated" facility than they would be paid if they were independent. In February, the Department suddenly announced that it had adopted changes (effective May 1) to the physical therapy reimbursement rules. Under the changes, a physician could be fined $10,000 if he referred to a physician affiliated physical therapist. The Commissioner of Labor said that no notice or hearing was required since the changes were "minor."
Before: phsyician affiliated physical therapist gets paid for treatment, but less than an independent.
After: physician who referred to the physician affiliated therapist is fined $10,000.
Does anyone see this as minor?
On Friday, the department published further changes -- effective tomorrow -- granting some additional exemptions to the physician affiliated prohibition, but requiring preauthorization for any physical therapy visit. It is unclear from the revised rules whether therapists with patients scheduled for treatment on Monday -- neither health care providers or insurers had advance notice of this new preauthorization requirement -- can be paid for providing the treatment.
As I mentioned above, this story has not received any press, but if you would like more information, please e-mail me at the address listed under my profile.