Letter to the Editor of the New York Times Regarding Medicare Settlement

Release date: 10/25/2012

The following is a letter to the editor in response to The New York Times article Settlement Eases Rules for Some Medicare Patients, written by the National Parkinson Foundation's Vice President of Programs, Peter Schmidt, PhD, and National Medical Director, Michael S. Okun, MD.

To the Editor:

With our focus on Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease, we were thrilled with a result of the Medicare settlement (“Accord to Ease Medicare Rules in Chronic Cases,” front page, Oct. 23). Many Parkinson’s patients have been denied therapy services when the improvement standard has not been met, despite meaningful gains in areas like fall and fracture risk.

We recently co-wrote a study on hospitalization in Parkinson’s disease, and access to therapy is a key factor in preventing hospital stays and shortening them when they occur.

Recent studies have shown that expert care reduces the economic burden of Parkinson’s disease. With this settlement, we can focus our efforts on training therapists to provide the care that improves quality of life and cuts costs. 

Robert D. Reischauer, a Medicare public trustee, said he believes that this decision will increase costs.  For people with Parkinson’s, we and our colleagues have shown that this investment today will pay dividends tomorrow.

Miami, Oct. 24, 2012

The writers are, respectively, vice president of programs at the National Parkinson Foundation; and the foundation’s national medical director.