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  • Coronavirus Update: May 8, 2020

    Insurance premium rebates, cyberattacks related to COVID-19, resources from APTA components, and more.

    In the Media

    May 7: UnitedHealth Commits to Premium Rebates, Cost-Sharing Waivers
    From CNBC: "UnitedHealth Group announced Thursday it will provide $1.5 billion in direct financial relief for its customers in the form of premium rebates for consumers on individual and small group employer plans, and cost-sharing waivers for seniors on its Medicare Advantage plans." A subsequent announcement from UHC clarifies that the waivers apply to physical therapy visits.

    May 7: Inflammatory Syndrome in Children May be Linked to COVID-19
    From NPR: "The new condition associated with COVID-19 is called Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome. Symptoms include persistent fever, extreme inflammation, and evidence of one or more organs that are not functioning properly."

    May 5: Humana CEO Predicts Permanent Changes to Health Care System Post-Pandemic
    From CNBC: "Humana CEO Bruce Broussard said Tuesday that he expects telehealth and other changes embraced by the health-care sector during the coronavirus pandemic to have a lasting impact on how people go to the doctor."

    May 5: U.S., U.K. Warn of Cyberattacks to Coronavirus Response Efforts
    From CNN: "The United States and United Kingdom issued a new advisory Tuesday warning of ongoing cyberattacks against organizations involved in the coronavirus response, including health care bodies, pharmaceutical companies, academics, medical research organizations, and local government."

    Practice Guidance

    May 5: APTA Collects COVID-19 Webinars and Event Recordings
    APTA, in partnership with its components and other organizations, has amassed a collection of learning opportunities — all free to members and nonmembers.

    May 6: APTA Components Recommend Resources
    APTA's sections and academies have been creating resources and curating offerings from other agencies and organizations.

    COVID-19 Relief Programs

    May 7: HHS Extends Deadline for Attestation
    Providers now have 45 days to sign an attestation that they received relief money and will comply with terms and conditions. The previous deadline had been 30 days.

    From U.S. Department of Labor

    May 4, 2020: Employers May Not Have to Contribute to Workshare Benefits During Emergency
    From Law360: "Employers that opt in to 'workshare programs' letting workers collect partial unemployment while working a reduced schedule may not have to chip in during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor said in new guidance."

    From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    May 8: CDC Updates Guidance on Purchasing Respirators From Other Countries
    The CDC acknowledges that providers may be forced to source respirators that are not approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and offers guidance on how to evaluate devices and warning signs of potentially substandard equipment.

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

    APTA Advisory: Providers Given More Time to Comply With Relief Money Requirements

    Providers now have 45 days to sign the required attestation instead of 30.

    The COVID-19 relief money that the U.S Department of Health and Human Services is making available to providers requires that each provider sign an attestation acknowledging receipt and agreeing to the terms and conditions of the program. Providers had 30 days to meet that requirement, but now HHS is allowing more time.

    On May 7, HHS announced that it has extended the deadline for attestation from 30 days to 45 days after a provider has received a payment. The expanded deadline applies to all provider relief distributed through the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund.

    This PT in Motion News story explains some of the eligibility and other details of the relief fund. But note: HHS continues to update information on the program, so be sure to closely monitor the HHS Cares Act provider relief fund webpage for additional information as HHS makes it available.

    Think you may be eligible for relief but didn't receive any? First, call UnitedHealth Group at 866-569-3522 (UHG is handling the payments for HHS). If you're unable to find an answer, email COVID-19@cms.hhs.gov, contact your members of Congress, and notify APTA at advocacy@apta.org.

    APTA Continues Strategic Investments to Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

    A new standing committee and staff position align with expanded fundraising efforts to advance this strategic plan objective.

    One of the nine objectives in APTA’s 2019-2021 strategic plan is to foster the long-term sustainability of the physical therapy profession by making APTA an inclusive organization that reflects the diversity of the society the profession serves.

    To advance that objective, APTA has recently taken the following steps:

    • Established a standing committee on DEI. Joining other standing committees to the Board of Directors (Ethics & Judicial, Finance & Audit, Public Policy and Advocacy, and Scientific and Practice Affairs), this committee will provide the Board with strategic counsel and recommendations for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the association and profession. APTA will open its call for volunteers for this 14-person committee in February 2021.
    • Expanded fundraising efforts. Building on APTA’s fundraising for the Minority Scholarship Fund, headlined each year by the Celebration of Diversity Gala, earlier this year APTA announced the creation of the Campaign for Future Generations. The purpose of the campaign is to leverage any net proceeds from the association’s upcoming centennial activities and the sale of naming rights in APTA’s new headquarters to invest in DEI. (In light of COVID-19, APTA has temporarily suspended active fundraising, but the opportunity to contribute remains open. The first 10,000 people to donate at least $10 to the campaign will have their name included on the Community Wall at APTA’s new building.)
    • Created the Dimensions of Diversity Fund. Since 1988, APTA has provided more than $1 million in awards to racial and ethnic minority students and faculty through the Minority Scholarship Fund. The new Dimensions of Diversity Fund will expand on APTA’s efforts to improve DEI. Both funds are organized within the Physical Therapy Fund, an APTA-controlled subsidiary 501(c)(3), which will be overseen by a new board of trustees to strengthen ongoing stewardship. Since the beginning of 2020, the Physical Therapy Fund has generated over $250,000 in new pledges as part of APTA’s goal to double the fund by the end of 2021.
    • Outlined a new APTA staff position to begin in 2021. Later this year, APTA will begin recruiting for a new director of inclusion, which will lead organizational support of DEI and serve as the executive director of the Physical Therapy Fund. This position will continue and expand the work led by APTA’s previous director of minority affairs and women’s initiatives position, which was vacated earlier this year when Johnette Meadows, PT, MS, retired from APTA after more than three decades of pioneering leadership that included establishing and growing the Minority Scholarship Fund.

    The efforts expand on other actions taken by APTA in recent years, ranging from the addition of mothers' rooms at the Combined Sections Meeting to the expansion of student recruitment efforts meant to inspire a more diverse applicant pool for physical therapy education programs.

    In alignment with the strategic plan theme of stewardship, the Board is committed to positioning the association to head into its next century with expanded support to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the physical therapy community.

    Want to connect on APTA’s DEI activities? Email dei@apta.org.

    CMS Officially Recognizes Compacts

    A new online resource clearly states that providers who are members of compacts — including the compact system for PTs and PTAs — can be recognized as eligible Medicare providers.

    The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services let it be known in February that PTs and PTAs with physical therapy compact privileges can qualify as Medicare providers, but only by way of an email to APTA and the Physical Therapy Compact Commission. In that email CMS said that official notice would be forthcoming: That notice is now here.

    Now available: a CMS MLN Matters resource verifying the agency’s recognition of interstate license compacts as "valid and full licenses for purposes of meeting federal license requirements." The statement is aimed at settling confusion over compacts that led to some providers experiencing problems enrolling in Medicare with a compact privilege.

    The CMS position is good news for PTs and PTAs in the Physical Therapy Compact, the system that allows PTs and PTAs licensed in one compact state to obtain practice privileges in other compact states. CMS specifically mentions the physical therapy profession's compact in its acknowledgment of what it calls "a new trend in medicine."

    According to CMS, Medicare Administrative Contractors will accept enrollment applications from providers in compacts and will attempt to verify the applicant's license — or request documentation directly from the provider. Additionally, CMS says MACs will reopen any applications that were previously denied and continue processing them, establishing the effective billing date as the date the MAC received the original application.