Approve Therapy Telehealth Services and Reimbursement-Medicaid and Commercial Insurances

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Due to the current state of emergency imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak, therapy clients are not receiving crucial therapy services due to the fear and risk of contracting or spreading the virus. These clients are cancelling or refusing services and asking to be placed on hold from therapy until the current health situation has been resolved. 


In order to protect the health and safety of our clients, as well as continuity of care, we urge congress to sign an order to waive any and all restrictions of physical, mental and behavioral therapists (occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, applied behavior therapy, etc.) to allow therapists to provide telehealth/teletherapy services and be reimbursed by Medicaid and commercial insurances during this emergency situation. By allowing the provision and reimbursement of telehealth services by CMS and commercial insurances, we can help limit the spread of this infectious disease, protect vulnerable populations, and continue to provide medically necessary therapy services to those in need. Telehealth provisions for therapy service providers are also necessary to limit further overwhelming healthcare facilities (doctor’s offices, hospitals, etc.) with non-emergent needs if therapy isn’t continued. Ceasing therapy services also creates the dilemma of potential regression of skills gained through therapy, therefore, further extending therapy services once therapy is resumed. 

 

Telehealth has been proven effective in terms of service delivery models by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is supported by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and other therapy organizations as a way to increase access to providers and to minimize delays in services. It is our duty to protect those in need and to do so by further limiting contact with others, especially those potentially affected by or at risk for contracting the virus. Due to our current health situation and statewide restrictions telehealth is a medically necessary mode of service delivery. It is imperative that we extend telehealth services and reimbursement to therapists, effective immediately.