Tuesday, May 26, 2020 Coronavirus Update: May 26, 2020 Expanded private payer telehealth coverage for physical therapy, employer tax credit, guidance for PT education programs, and more. From PT in Motion News May 15: BCBS of Tennessee Makes PT Telehealth Service Coverage Permanent BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee announced that is making coverage of in-network telehealth service a permanent part of its benefit packages, including telehealth delivered by PTs. The change is the first time a major insurer has extended telehealth coverage beyond the length of the current public health emergency. May 19: Humana Adopts Telehealth for PTs, OTs, SLPs Humana announced that it has expanded its temporary telehealth provisions to include a wider range of providers — PTs, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists among them. The expansion applies to both participating/in-network providers and specialty providers, so long as the services don't violate state laws and regulations. From the U.S. Department of Internal Revenue Services May 8: U.S. CARES Act Provides Tax Credit to Help Employers Retain Staff The IRS recently shared information about the Employee Retention Credit authorized under the CARES Act. Designed to encourage employers to keep employees on their payroll, the credit allows an eligible employer whose business has been affected by COVID-19 to receive a refund for 50% of wages paid, up to $10,000. Guidance and Recommendations May 26: Considerations for Outpatient Physical Therapy Clinics During a COVID-19 Public Health Crisis APTA, the APTA Private Practice Section, and APTA Rhode Island created a guidance document aimed at helping outpatient physical therapy clinics minimize the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus. The resource contains more than 60 recommendations that impact nearly every area of operations, from treatment to office administration. May 13: ACC Sports Section Endorses "Game Plan" on Athlete Return to Play Post COVID-19 Authors of a JAMA Viewpoint present a return-to-play algorithm for "competitive athletes and highly active people." The consensus document was endorsed by the American College of Cardiology Sports and Exercise Cardiology Section. May 14: CDC Issues Advisory on Inflammatory Syndrome in Children Associated With COVID-19 The CDC Health Alert Network issued an official advisory on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) with background on the condition and reporting recommendation for any health care providers who have cared or are caring for patients younger than 21 years of age who meet criteria for MIS-C criteria. For additional information, providers can contact the CDC’s 24-hour Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or their state health department's after-hours hotline. May 18: ACAPT Offers Strategies for PT Education Program Classrooms and Labs The American Council of Academic Physical Therapy published a "living document" with strategies and considerations for managing safe in-person education programs. May 18: Trump Administration Issues Guidance to States for Safe Reopening of Nursing Homes A memorandum from CMS provides criteria to help state and local officials decide how and when to relax current restrictions for nursing homes, including factors such as number of new cases in the community and the facility, adequate staffing, and access to testing and personal protective equipment. In the Media May 15: COVID-19 Infection Rate Potentially 35 Times Greater in Areas Without Social Distancing Policies From Washington Post: Counties without mandatory social distancing policies experience 35 times more cases of COVID-19, according to a new study in the journal Health Affairs. Researchers found that the daily rate of infection decreased the longer a policy was in effect. May 15: World Health Organization: Coronavirus May Be Here for the Long Term From CBS News: WHO Emergencies Director Mike Ryan warns against trying to predict the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying "this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away." 20: U.S. Nursing Homes "Plagued by Infection" Before COVID-19, Says GAO From Reuters: According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 82% of nursing homes were cited for an infection prevention and control deficiency between 2013 and 2017 — and 48% were cited more than once.