Use of Physical and Occupational Therapy by Medicare Beneficiaries Within Five Conditions: 1994–2001


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Abstract

Ngo L, Latham NK, Jette AM, Soukup J, Iezzoni LI: Use of physical and occupational therapy by Medicare beneficiaries within five conditions: 1994–2001. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2009;88:308–321.Objective:To examine the use of physical therapy and occupational therapy among Medicare beneficiaries nationwide before and after the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, which introduced prospective payment for rehabilitation services.Design:We analyzed responses from the longitudinal Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, merged with Medicare claims, to track physical therapy and occupational therapy rates and intensity (units of service) from 1994 through 2001. This observational study focused on elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries within five conditions: stroke, acute myocardial infarction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthritis, and lower-limb mobility problems. We used cubic smoothing spline functions to describe trends in service intensity over time and generalized estimating equations to assess changes in service intensity.Results:Controlling for demographic characteristics, adjusted mean level of physical therapy and occupational therapy intensity rose significantly between 1994 and 2001 for all five conditions. Service intensity leveled off in 1999 for occupational therapy and 2000 for physical therapy. With few exceptions, physical therapy and occupational therapy intensity was not significantly associated with patients’ demographic characteristics.Conclusions:Medicare beneficiaries with conditions that can potentially benefit from physical therapy or occupational therapy or both continued to get these services at similar—and sometimes increasing—intensity during years after passage of the Balanced Budget Act.

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