APTQI Joins Stakeholders in Asking for Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery

On June 10, the APTQI and more than a dozen stakeholder groups sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar urging the Administration to include physical therapy measures on his list of COVID-19 regulatory relief actions that would support economic recovery if made permanent. The HHS is required by a recent Executive Order to submit a report outlining relief measures to be considered for permanent adoption.

The groups express appreciation for actions previously taken by HHS and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to afford much-needed flexibilities to health care providers and patients, including expanding the eligibility of providers who can furnish and bill for telehealth and communication technology-based services under Medicare.

The groups strongly “encourage HHS to work with Congress to amend the Social Security Act to provide CMS with the statutory authority to permanently extend the policy that allows telehealth services furnished by all outpatient occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and audiology providers to be reimbursed under Medicare, as well as make permanent the flexibilities associated with the originating site geography, authorized originating site, and audio-visual technology to allow all Medicare beneficiaries to receive telehealth services from their home, whether that home is in the community or part of an institutional setting.”

The groups express their eagerness to work collaboratively with HHS and CMS to identify a pathway for Congress to enact permanent statutory changes that will enable continued beneficiary access to outpatient therapy telehealth services that are successfully being delivered during the COVID-19 crisis without increasing costs to the Medicare Trust Fund.

According to the letter, permanent adoption of such policies will:

  • Provide greater flexibility to providers and patients;
  • Increase access to skilled care, especially to those living in rural and medically underserved areas;
  • Improve management of chronic disease and quality of life; and
  • Reduce health care expenditures.

In addition to the APTQI, other stakeholder groups that signed on to the letter include the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, LeadingAge and National Association for the Support of Long Term Care.

To read the letter, CLICK HERE.