ATEAM

August 8, 2011

The “Athletic Trainers’ Equal Access to Medicare Act” legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives once again. This legislation would allow an athletic trainer to provide rehabilitation services to patients of all ages. In 2004 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decided athletic trainers were not qualified to provide these services to Medicare beneficiaries. This would reverse that decision and provide athlete-patients of all ages to receive the best care possible. It would not exclude a healthcare provider simply due to politics.

This is a topic which could become contensious once again. The American Physical Therapy Association has repeatedly stated that they are the only ones qualified to provide physical therapy. As an athletic trainer, I’d agree with this notion. I’m not qualified to provide physical therapy, but I am qualified to provide rehabilitation.

I have heard repeatedly from physical therapists and others how athletic trainers don’t have the education or training to provide rehabilitation services. A) Over 70% of athletic trainers have a Masters Degree or higher. B) If athletic trainers didn’t have that ability, then why are we the healthcare provider in the collegiate and professional setting?

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4 Responses to “ATEAM”

  1. TNT Man Says:

    There is a PT in the suite next to my office. Not quite sure what he does since the place looks like a mini gym. Some of it looks like what a Massage Therapist does, some what a Chiropractor does and the rest – well all a mystery to me.

    In today’s world, where there is talk of cutting back on Medicare benefits – there is a snow ball’s chance in hell that they will expand coverage to include athletic trainers. – Which is not saying that they shouldn’t but that in today’s reality, it will not happen.


  2. Can’t say I disagree with you. I think the biggest hope we have is that our government is full of politicians who show they have no clue. They spend money to spend money. A lot of things that need to change from that standpoint.

    I’m not sold on the idea; all I can say is I’m tired of politics being able to do so much damage. The initial decision by the CMS in 2004 was strictly a political move- at least one or two other professional organizations who have big wallets wanted athletic trainers out and they were able to succeed to get it done.

  3. Eric Sampsell Says:

    As a PT, ATC running an outpatient clinic, I respectfully disagree with this legislation. ATC’s are not qualified to provide PT or “rehab” to any population. This is semantics. Having been an ATC, I know what I was comfortable and safe doing and rehabbing a patient with multiple medical issues who just sustained a stroke or internal fixation post fracture for example was not one of them. ATC’s can be trained to work with certain Orthopaedic injuries, especially those by athletes, but the ATC educational experience does not properly expose them to all age populations.
    I appreciate any constructive feedback! Thanks


  4. Eric, I will disagree with your comment of an athletic trainer not being qualified to provide rehab to any population. That is wrong. We are more than qualified to provide rehab for an ankle sprain, muscle strain, etc. I personally have no interest in trying to rehab a patient post-stroke or anything like that. We don’t have that training and I’m not interested in doing it anyway!

    I continue to wonder why an athletic trainer is qualified to provide rehab in an athletic training (at a school, university, professional sport) but the second he or she steps into a clinic with that same patient, he or she is no longer “qualified.” That is my biggest problem.

    Thanks for reading!


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