In theory, a PT patient who needs help with low back pain should receive the same care in Alaska as they do in Hawaii. After all, PTs across the country should have equivalent skills. It should follow that a licensed Alaskan PT could move to Hawaii and immediately treat patients—right?
As of this article’s publication date, we are less than one month away from the 2020 presidential election, but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. Unless you’ve completely unplugged from all forms of media and resettled in the middle of nowhere, you’ve undoubtedly been confronted with phone calls, advertisements, and mailers reminding you when to vote—and for whom.
When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a 9% cut to Medicare payments for rehab therapy services, the industry exploded. Therapy organizations leapt into action, firing up advocacy efforts to convince Congress to intervene.
Back in March, the future seemed hazy—to put it mildly. COVID-19 cases were spreading throughout the US, many states went on economic lockdown, and a huge number of small businesses suddenly found themselves without enough revenue to stay open—let alone pay their employees.
CMS has thrown down the gauntlet for PTs and OTs. It yet again challenged us, clear as day, to fight for our Medicare payments and prove our worth as healthcare providers. Sure, CMS isn’t looking for a literal round of fisticuffs—but its planned payment reduction will inflict harm just the same.
Every year near the end of July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) releases a document with all of the proposed policy changes that it wants to implement. And this year, the proposed rule is a roller coaster for rehab therapists.
Prior to the pandemic, telehealth was slowly gaining traction as a viable mode of service delivery for OTs, PTs, and SLPs. Providers and patients were beginning to appreciate its benefits (especially for patients in rural areas and pediatric patients living on federal land) but adoption was scattered. Some states, such as Georgia, explicitly authorized telehealth in their rehab therapy state practice acts, while others authorized rehab therapy telehealth via a separate, related statute.
Last week, CMS announced that PTs—along with OTs and SLPs—are eligible to provide telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries for the duration of this emergency, which is huge. Rehab therapists have been advocating hard for this move since well before the pandemic struck, and now that this change is on the books,
Slowly but surely, the country is starting to open up again following weeks of state-issued orders to stay home or shelter in place. For many, one of the first changes is allowing elective surgeries and other “non-essential” medical procedures to resume—something that,
On Thursday, April 30, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officially made physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists eligible to deliver—and receive reimbursement for—telehealth services for the remainder of the public health emergency period. This change—along with all other temporary provisions included in the full CMS bulletin—is retroactive to March 1, 2020.
Because of the coronavirus, many rehab therapy clinics are in dire financial straits. Appointment cancellations are spiking, cash flow is dwindling, and practices are struggling to pay employees. So, when the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law on Friday, March 27, 2020, many healthcare providers were thrilled to learn it included provisions for accelerated and advance payments from Medicare.