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Medicare enacts limits on Wrangell physical therapy visits

Wrangell residents who have relied on Medicare to cover physical therapy appointments may have to pay some of those costs out of pocket. This year, Medicare put a yearly limit on physical therapy coverage.

For 2014, Medicare will cover outpatient physical therapy up to $1,920. On average, that takes care of one month of therapy. Patients can apply for additional coverage up to a total of $3,700, which would add another month.

Aaron McPherson, director of physical therapy at Wrangell Medical Center, said the annual cap could be problematic.

“If you had someone come in for therapy, let’s say in January, for a knee replacement, and most after-surgery therapies can take a good while to rehabilitate. If they had something else happen in November at the end of the year, their benefit may have already been used,” McPherson said. “So it’s not really going to hit a lot of people in the pocket initially. It’s just something that we have to be aware of that we’ve never been aware of before at this physical therapy clinic.”

Most hospitals have had limits on physical therapy coverage for many years. But this year, Medicare extended the cap to Critical Access Hospitals, a category that includes the Wrangell Medical Center.

For more information, you can check medicare.gov, or contact the Physical Therapy Department at Wrangell Medical Center.

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