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Telehealth and COVID-19

Tuesday, July 14, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Nicholas
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Telehealth and COVID-19

As we watch the southern states' ICU units fill, here in Illinois we are in the recovery phase with many COVID-19 patients relying on home health - including physical therapy - to help them across the finish line and beat the virus.  Whether in person or via telehealth, physical therapists will continue to play a role in COVID-19 patient care for months to come.  For our patients recovering from more traditional illnesses and injuries, it's equally important to make care readily available to them in the same ways to reduce risks of infection to both health care providers as well as patients.

BCBSIL has announced that they will continue telehealth coverage through the end of 2020 and other insurance companies are also making that commitment, regardless of whether state executive order's mandating coverage -  and payment -  expire before then.  With several months of experience now behind us, more and more resources on adopting telehealth into practice are becoming available.  The APTA has grouped them together on their newly launched website here

The APTA Learning Center also has a section of programming focused on telehealth, click here to learn more.

There has also been further clarification from CMS regarding the use of telehealth:  Medicare Part B institutional claims for outpatient therapy services furnished through telehealth are permitted for hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, critical-access hospitals, comprehensive outpatient rehab facilities, rehabilitation agencies, and home health agencies. More information is available here.

It is important to note that the current provisions for telehealth coverage by Medicare are temporary and will be in effect as long as we are in a state of emergency with COVID-19. As soon as the President lifts the state of emergency, the telehealth provisions for Medicare patients will go away.

The APTA is pushing to make the current rules on telehealth permanent by getting this language into one of the next CARES/COVID relief packages. They are no longer pushing the CONNECT for HEALTH bill forward, as it was more restrictive in telehealth provisions than the current allowances. As the APTA pushes out ACTION ALERTS on this PTs and patients should contact their US Representative and Senators Durbin and Duckworth to support this. Learn more.


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