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  • Coronavirus Update: March 30, 2020

    Practice guidance for pediatric physical therapy, a new volunteer resource, accelerated Medicare payments, and more.

    Practice Guidance

    March 30: APTA Offers General and Pediatric-Focused COVID-19 Guidance for PTs, PTAs, Students
    Two new resources from APTA can help PTs, PTAs, and students looking for more detailed, profession-specific guidance related to providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic: one focused on general PT management of patients, and a second that specifically addresses pediatric physical therapy.

    March 30: New COVID-19 Volunteer Resource Connects PTs, PTAs, Students With Facilities in Need
    APTA has launched a new online service that helps connect members of the physical therapy profession with facilities looking for volunteers. The service offers two points of entry — one for facilities in need of PT, PTA, or student volunteers, and another for PTs, PTAs, and students willing to offer their services, by way of the APTA Engage volunteer portal.

    From CMS

    March 30: 39 States Have Been Granted Medicaid Waivers
    As of March 30, 39 states have received federal 1135 waivers on a range of Medicaid requirements including prior authorization, provider enrollment, public notice mandates, and fair hearing request timelines. A CMS press released dated March 27 reported that 34 waivers had been issued; by the afternoon of March 30, the number had risen to 39.

    March 28: CMS Expands Accelerated and Advance Payment Program for Medicare 
    "CMS is expanding the program for all Medicare providers throughout the country during the public health emergency related to COVID-19," CMS states in a press release. "The payments can be requested by hospitals, doctors, durable medical equipment suppliers and other Medicare Part A and Part B providers and suppliers." Qualifications include billing timelines and a requirement that the provider not be in bankruptcy, not be under active medical review or program integrity investigation, and not have outstanding delinquent Medicare overpayments.

    March 27: CMS Offers Long-Term Care Nursing Homes Telehealth, Telemedicine Toolkit
    According to CMS: "Most of the information is directed towards providers who may want to establish a permanent telemedicine program, but there is information here that will help in the temporary deployment of a telemedicine program as well." Resources include guidance on choosing telemedicine vendors, equipment, and software, as well as developing documentation tools.

    From the Department of Health and Human Services

    March 27: HHS Office for Civil Rights Issues Bulletin on Nondiscrimination Requirements
    The HHS OCR is reminding entities covered by civil rights authorities that the current COVID-19 national emergency does not change civil rights laws. "These laws, like other civil rights statutes that OCR enforces, remain in effect," the bulletin states. "As such, persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative 'worth' based on the presence or absence of disabilities."

    Visit APTA's Coronavirus webpage for more information and updates.


    • Medicare plans do cover coronavirus (COVID-19) tests and treatment. Covid-19 lab tests and the costs of hospitalization are covered by Medicare Part A and Medicare Part Bhttps://bit.ly/39xc2Zk. Lab tests are ‘free’. There will be zero out of pocket expenses, co-pays or co-insurance, for the test itself or relevant office visits. Treatment is a separate issue and will generally be subject to the terms of your personal plan health insurance.

      Posted by Adam Wiley on 3/31/2020 4:16 AM

    • What is the protocol for what a PT clinic should do when a patient and/or therapist working at that clinic should test + for Covid-19? I.e. cleaning procedures, closure of clinic, informing staff and patients? Thank You

      Posted by Binie on 3/31/2020 12:47 PM

    • Is the requirement for a patient portal to deliver e-visits for Medicare patients still in place?

      Posted by Crista Hernan on 4/3/2020 3:23 PM

    • @Binie: The information about communication if a staff tests positive for COVID-19 is as follows per CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The fellow employees should then self-monitor for symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath). If you are treating a patient who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID19 or if you or the patient are in a high risk category use recommended personal protective equipment (facemask, gloves, follow the CDC Standard Precautions). If protective gear is not available, cancel treatment or provide phone consultation/contact. See also: • CDC guidance on Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/infection-control-recommendations.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Finfection-control%2Fcontrol-recommendations.html • Steps Healthcare facilities can take to prepare for COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/steps-to-prepare.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fhealthcare-facilities%2Fsteps-to-prepare.html • Additional CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/infection-control.html

      Posted by APTA staff on 4/4/2020 11:30 AM

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