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Stroke Advocacy Network Newsletter

MARCH 2014

Stop the Therapy Cap

Is a Permanent Repeal of the Therapy Cap on the Horizon?

Congress has less than a month to act before stroke survivors face new financial restrictions on access to some critical care. Without legislative action by March 31, access to outpatient occupational, speech and physical therapy services will be limited to no more than $1,920 per year.

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This $1,920 cap, known as the Medicare therapy cap, was created in 1997 as part of an effort to reduce health care costs. Because many patients require additional services, an exceptions process was established that allows people to receive therapy services above those caps. Unfortunately, this exceptions process must be approved by Congress, which they’ve done 10 times since 1997.

The fact that the exceptions process must be reauthorized each year (or recently on a more frequent basis) has created a tremendous amount of uncertainty for stroke survivors and their caregivers. This uncertainty should stop. Congress can permanently repeal the therapy cap so stroke survivors can know they’ll receive the care they need for their recovery. We must continue to fight  for this repeal in Congress, and we need your help. Only you can tell your personal story in a way that will have an impact. Please learn more about this important issue and send a message or call your representatives in Congress about it. It’ll only a minute of your time, but it’ll make a big difference for stroke surviviors who rely on Medicare for their therapy servcies.

License plates from Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Indiana and OhioSupport Services for Stroke Survivors in Your State

State legislators in Hawaii, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania have introduced a variety of legislation that would support brain injury services for stroke survivors. Find your state below and click the link to take action!

  • Hawaii—SB 1227 and HB 1838 require insurers to cover certain therapy services for survivors of brain injuries, such as stroke. These services are critical to post-stroke recovery and many stroke survivors in Hawaii don’t currently have access to them.
  • Indiana—SB 374 creates a statewide plan to address the needs of Hoosiers with brain injuries, including stroke. The plan will also review the needs of the families and caregivers of the brain injury survivor.
  • Ohio—HB 361 prohibits health insurance providers from excluding coverage for treatment, therapy and rehabilitation services related to acquired brain injuries, such as stroke. The increased coverage proposed by this bill could result in improved treatment and faster recovery for stroke survivors.
  • Pennsylvania—HB 1240 requires Medicaid to cover cognitive rehabilitation therapy services for survivors of brain injuries, including stroke survivors. This bill would ensure that the most vulnerable stroke survivors in Pennsylvania get the care they need for their recovery.

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Stop the Therapy Caps

Recovery Services

Improve Stroke Treatment

Expand Stroke Care

Other Stroke Legislation

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Tell Your Story

Improve your advocacy efforts for stroke. Develop your stroke story to share with policymakers.

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Help Stroke Survivors Return to Work

Make sure stroke survivors trying to return to work receive help—send a message or make a call today and help make this happen!

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Free Advocacy Training

  Learn how to be an effective stroke advocate. Watch an educational video today!

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Help Save Lives and Reduce the Impact of Stroke

License plates from DC, HI, ID, IL, MA, MI and OHMany state legislatures are considering bills that would establish or improve a statewide stroke system of care. This is important because a strong system of care can save lives and reduce the impact of stroke when it occurs.

Take action today on this important issue Only advocates in these states can take this action: DC, HI, ID, IL, MA, MN, OH, NJ

What is a stroke system of care? It includes many elements designed to decrease the amount of time it takes to diagnose a stroke patient and transport that patient to an appropriate healthcare facility for treatment. This year states are working on a variety of bills to improve stroke systems of care, including bills that:

  • Designate facilities—Classifying and recognizing healthcare facilities that have additional training and knowledge about stroke so that emergency personnel can transport stroke patients to these facilities when possible
  • Develop a stroke registry—Establishing a system for measuring, reporting and monitoring stroke care performance through data collection and the creation of a stroke database, or registry, to help facilities improve stroke care in the future
  • Improve stroke training—Educating emergency medical personnel about stroke so patients can be diagnosed more quickly and transported to an appropriate healthcare facility

How does this improve the lives of stroke patients and survivors? With early diagnosis and timely treatment, the prognosis and recovery rate from a stroke is vastly improved, so getting a patient to a facility trained to handle stroke can mean the difference between life and death. It can also lead to better recoveries by reducing the impact of stroke and thus, the challenges stroke survivors face in their daily lives.

Are your state legislators talking about stroke systems of care? The following state legislatures are debating bills to establish or improve a statewide stroke system of care: District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio and New Jersey. If you live in one of these states, ask your legislators to support the stroke community by supporting a statewide stroke system of care. Take action today and make a difference for stroke patients across your state!

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photo of computer with doctor's arm and stethascopeStates are Talking about Telemedicine—Be Part of the Conversation

Several state legislatures are considering bills that would provide for or expand access to telemedicine services. These services can help save lives and reduce the impact of stroke, and you can help expand their reach or make them available in your state!

Take action today on this important issue Only advocates in these states can take this action: AK, CA, CT, FL, HI, ID, IL, IA, KS, LA, MD, MA, MS, MO, NE, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, WA and WV

Telemedicine services allow healthcare professionals to care for patients in locations other than where the professional works.  For example, it would allow medical staff at a primary stroke center, where the staff is specially trained to care for stroke patients, to help care for patients in other hospitals whose staff don’t have this type of training. This is done using various tools, such as video conferencing technology that enables remote patient monitoring or using mobile devices to allow off-site viewing of health images. Telemedicine gives more people access to specialized stroke services. Because every minute counts when someone is having a stroke, it can mean more stroke patients survive and the impacts of their stroke can be reduced.

States are tackling this issue in different ways. Some states are introducing bills to require further study of the issue to understand and accurately implement telemedicine in those states. Other states are working on bills related to licensure of healthcare professionals and how that would work in a telemedicine environment. There are also bills that make sure health insurers cover telemedicine services. State legislators from these states are debating bills to provide for or expand access to telemedicine services: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iow, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia. Find out what your state is doing for telemedicine and help us make a difference for stroke patients in your state!

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What Is Your State Doing for Stroke?

Residents of California, New York, Massachusetts, and Missouri—your state legislators have been busy introducing bills related to stroke! Check out what your state is doing below and take action today by following the link.

California license plate In California a bill has been introduced that would provide state funding for brain research. There is much doctors, scientists and researchers still don't understand about brain injuries and brain disorders, such as stroke. That’s why this funding is so important—it could result in improved stroke prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
New York license plate The New York legislature is considering two bills that will establish a collaboration program among hospitals, home care agencies and physicians to better meet New Yorkers' healthcare needs. This is important to the stroke community because stroke survivors often need a spectrum of care that includes multiple healthcare providers and services in a variety of settings. More collaboration can improve care and reduce the impact stroke has on survivors for the rest of their lives.
Massachusetts license plate Massachusetts legislators are considering a bill that creates an aphasia study commission to make recommendations for legislation, supporting programs and resources to meet the unmet needs of people with aphasia in Massachusetts. This bill is important because full recovery from aphasia is possible, but if symptoms persist long enough, then a complete recovery becomes unlikely.
Missouri license plate In Missouri a bill has been introduced that if passed, will recognize music therapy as a valid healthcare service. Music therapy is especially important to the stroke community because research has shown that it can help stroke survivors regain some of their speech and mobility.

Visit the State Advocacy Action Center to see what’s happening in your state and how you can help make a positive change for the stroke community.

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Supported by Allergan, Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech, Inc.,
H. Lundbeck A/S, Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Pfizer, Inc.