The many challenges of 2020 continue to ripple over into 2021, but the new year has also brought in a new landscape. The country is looking to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic as vaccination programs gain speed, and there’s a new administration in Washington, D.C.
Emerging from the pandemic and working with new policy makers in Washington are among the topics covered in Mobility Management’s latest podcast, which featured a conversation with NCART Executive Director Don Clayback and Associate Director Mickae Lee.
“One of the things we’ve learned over the years is we really need to be flexible and pivot,” Clayback said, when asked about NCART’s current priorities. “There isn’t a better illustration than last year, when we had our year pretty well planned out, and then come February and March, we had the pandemic that added a whole new dimension to the year.”
In fact, 2020 may be remembered as the year telehealth and remote services were proven to be valuable and viable options for seating and wheelchair assessments. And now, one of NCART’s priorities is to maintain telehealth options going forward.
“We’re working on the need to permanently authorize physical and occupational therapists as approved telehealth practitioners and to include the related CPT [Current Procedural Terminology] codes as billable services via telehealth,” Lee said.
“We recognize, of course, that the best practice is for the full CRT team — meaning the consumer, the ATP and the clinician — to meet in person whenever possible,” she added. “That will always be the standard. However, one thing that the pandemic did demonstrate is that there are definitely beneficial applications of telehealth and Complex Rehab outside of a public health emergency.”
And 2021 also brought a change of administration in Washington. While Clayback said a new President and personnel changes in the Senate and House don’t mean the CRT industry will need to start from scratch with its policy efforts, “It does cause us to pause and reassess the environment.”
Of President Joe Biden’s administration, Clayback added, “Certainly some of the themes relative to inclusion of all communities and his reference to the disability community have been very positive, and I know within the disability community, there is a definite optimism in terms of some of the things we’ve been working on.”
As Clayback mentions in the podcast, those issues include standing and seat elevation policy, as well as funding for CRT manual wheelchair accessories.
“When the CRT community comes together to work on an issue,” Lee said, “that’s when we really see the most success. That’s when we see the most change.”
This latest podcast is the first in a series of industry podcast interviews that Mobility Management will do with NCART throughout the year. Past podcasts on a range of industry topics can be found in Mobility Management’s podcast library.