A bill introduced on March 23 to the U.S. House of Representatives includes a provision to make permanent the clinician telehealth options that have worked so well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
H.R. 2168 was introduced by Rep. Mikie Sherill (D-N.J.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.V.), according to an NCART news bulletin. At the time of its introduction, the bill had 14 co-sponsors and was receiving bipartisan support.
During the ongoing pandemic, seating and wheeled mobility evaluations have been able to progress in many cases due to the successful use of telehealth and remote services. This model has enabled clinicians and suppliers to perform assessments with one or more members of the team participating via videoconferencing.
Physical and occupational therapists doing seating assessments were allowed to conduct telehealth sessions temporarily as part of the Public Health Emergency (PHE). But the Medicare telehealth option is currently due to expire upon the end of the PHE.
H.R. 2168 seeks to change that policy.
“H.R. 2168 contains important provisions to expand access to telehealth services and specifically adds physical and occupational therapists as permanently authorized telehealth practitioners within the Medicare program,” said NCART Executive Director Don Clayback in the bulletin.
“It is important that these clinicians retain the ability to provide telehealth services after the end of the Public Health Emergency,” he added. “This is critical so they can continue to provide services and care to their clients with disabilities who require Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) and may not be able to get to a clinic or be seen in-person for needed evaluations and follow-up.”
While telehealth has proven effective during the pandemic, CRT advocates have pointed out that even once pandemic restrictions are lifted, the option of visiting virtually with a clinician is crucial for many CRT users who have transportation challenges or who don’t live near a seating clinic.
NCART is asking CRT stakeholders to support the Expanded Telehealth Access Act by reaching out to their Representatives and Senators.
Click HERE to send letters to your Representative and Senators. NCART supplies the letter and the e-mail address, so supporting H.R. 2168 is as easy as filling in your contact information and clicking Send.