This afternoon, March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. The CARES Act has several important provisions related to therapy services. A few of them are as follows:
Sec. 3703. Expanding Medicare Telehealth Flexibilities
This section will broaden the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive the telehealth requirements of section 1834(m) of the Social Security Act during the COVID-19 emergency period. This would enable Medicare beneficiaries to access telehealth, including in their home, from a broader range of providers, reducing COVID-19 exposure. To make it clear, this gives Administrator Verma the capability to expand telehealth services to include physical, occupational and speech therapy services.
Sec. 3708. Enabling Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners to Order Medicare Home Health Services
Under current law, only physicians are able to certify the need for home health services. This section will now allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other professionals to order home health services for beneficiaries, reducing delays and increasing beneficiary access to care in the safety of their home.
Sec. 3709. Increasing Provider Funding through Immediate Medicare Sequester Relief
This section will provide prompt economic assistance to health care providers on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 virus, helping them to furnish needed care to affected patients. Specifically, this section would temporarily lift the Medicare sequester, which reduces payments to providers by 2 percent, from May 1 through December 31, 2020, boosting payments for hospital, physician, nursing home, home health, and other care. The Medicare sequester would be extended by one year beyond current law to provide immediate relief without worsening Medicare’s long-term financial outlook. Translation: You will see a 2% increase in your Medicare payments with dates of service May 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020.
Per the American Physical Therapy Association
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD TODAY: Tell CMS to cover telehealth services furnished by PTs and PTAs under Medicare
The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, gives broad waiver authority to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to waive the restrictions on the types of providers who may provide and bill for telehealth services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 emergency period. It is important to note that this legislation, while giving the authority to the HHS Secretary (and thereby CMS) to expand the types of providers eligible to furnish telehealth services under Medicare, does not require the Secretary to take such action.
Therefore, we are encouraging all PTs, PTAs, and physical therapy students to use this template letter to tell CMS to expand the types of providers eligible to furnish telehealth services under Medicare to include physical therapists and physical therapist assistants during the COVID-19 public health emergency. [Submission instructions are at the top of the letter].
I urge you to take less than 5 minutes to click the hyperlink in the paragraph above. Copy the body of the letter into an email. Copy the Subject line into the Subject line of your email. Send the email to 1135Waiver@cms.hhs.gov
Subject Line: Expanding Medicare Beneficiary Access to Telerehabilitation During COVID-19 Pandemic
It’s that easy. Make it happen now. Stay tuned for updates.