Court Decides It Lacks Jurisdiction to Consider NATA's Lawsuit Against Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


DALLAS , July 25, 2005 – A Federal District Court dismissed the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) lawsuit against the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday, June 21. NATA filed its lawsuit on May 27, in response to CMS’ issuing a ruling that was to have gone into effect on June 6 and would have prohibited Medicare reimbursement for therapy services provided “incident to” a physician’s office visit by anyone other than a physical therapist, occupational therapist or speech and language pathologist. Because the Court determined it lacks jurisdiction, it did not make a decision on NATA’s request for an injunction to stop the new “incident to” rule from going into effect. NATA will continue to seek an injunction based on the new rule being illegal. “Incident to” therapy services are those services provided by qualified personnel, under the supervision of a physician. To date, there has never been any restriction on who can provide these services. If this ruling goes into effect, doctors would no longer have the option of employing certified athletic trainers (ATCs), rehabilitation nurses or kinesiologists to provide such services. In a 27-page order detailing its decision, the Court found in favor of NATA on many key points. Notably, the Court concluded that athletic trainers had standing to challenge the rule since they are personnel “who, for approximately seven years, were deemed by the Secretary (of Health and Human Services) to adequately perform ‘incident to’ therapy services in a manner that met the appropriate standards and quality required by” the applicable provision of the federal Medicare statute. However, the Court decided it does not have jurisdiction to hear the case because physicians have available administrative remedies which were not exhausted. NATA does not agree with this conclusion, contends no administrative remedies were available and plans to ask the Court to reconsider its decision. NATA is also considering its appeal rights to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and will continue to protect its members from irreparable harm. “NATA intends to pursue the legal rights of athletic trainers and to establish that its members are qualified and legitimate providers of rehabilitation services,” said NATA outside legal counsel Paul R. Genender. “NATA still contends that the proposed ‘incident to’ rule is illegal and the Court has yet to decide that issue. NATA will continue to represent the interests of the athletic training profession until it reaches a successful conclusion and gains the recognition athletic trainers rightfully deserve under the law,” said Genender. About NATA: Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax).

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