Last week, H.R.8746 — Access to Inpatient Rehabilitation Therapy Act of 2022 was introduced to ensure Medicare beneficiaries in inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) are able to access all skilled, medically necessary rehabilitation therapies that are most appropriate for their condition. This bill, also known as the “three hour rule bill,” would expand the current three hour rule in which Medicare requires IRF patients to be able to participate in, and benefit from, three hours of rehabilitation therapy per day, five days a week (or 15 hours over a seven day period). The current regulation only allows physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), speech therapy, and orthotics and prosthetics care to count towards the three hour requirement. As a result, many patients have difficulty accessing additional forms of therapy that may be more appropriate.
During the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), the three hour rule has been waived in its entirety. If the Access to Inpatient Rehabilitation Therapy Act is enacted, it would ensure that IRFs maintain flexibility after the expiration of the PHE. Most importantly, the legislation would allow certain therapies, including recreational therapy, cognitive therapy, and respiratory therapy, to count towards the three hour rule after the patient’s admission. These additional therapies and skilled modalities would be identified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). At the time of admission, the existing three hour rule would still apply, ensuring that IRF admissions do not increase (and thus add to underlying costs for the Medicare program) due to the new flexibility.
This legislative solution has been developed over several years with Members of Congress and a group of stakeholders, including the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association (AMRPA), the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (AAPM&R), the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), and the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA).
For additional information, please refer to Congressman Courtney’s press release.