Rehab roundup: Data gathering and advocating

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Friday, August 28, 2020

YARMOUTH, Maine – The new CRT Remote Services Consortium has launched two surveys – one for clinicians, and one for suppliers and manufacturers – to collect information about how they’re using telehealth and remote services, respectively. 

The consortium also seeks to collect information on what are the opportunities and challenges around these services, and how they should be used in the future. 

“The information will give us some good data – also some commentary – that we can include as we talk to policymakers,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, during an Aug. 20 webcast. 

As part of the current public health emergency, CMS has allowed occupational therapists and physical therapists to conduct telehealth services and has added a code used by therapists for “wheelchair management” to the list of approved codes for those services. 

The consortium seeks to make this policy expansion permanent. 

“Everyone agrees it’s not appropriate in all settings,” Clayback said, “but it’s a valuable option when it comes to complex rehab. It should be left to the impacted parties to determine when it’s appropriate.” 

Permanent protection 

Stakeholders sent more than 1,000 emails to members of the House of Representatives during National CRT Awareness Week, Aug. 10-14, to support a sign-on letter that seeks to permanently exempt accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs from competitive bidding pricing. 

“This will help push that initiative further toward that permanent protection,” said Mickae Lee, director of advocacy and communication for NCART. 

As of Aug. 20, only a handful of members had agreed to sign on to the letter, spearheaded by Reps. John Larson, D-Conn., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., but Clayback expects many more before the Sept. 18 deadline. 

“It’s not surprising, considering they’re in recess and we just stated (collecting signatures in early August),” he said. 

Call to clinicians 

PTs, OTs and speech therapists are fighting a 9% cut to Medicare rates scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2021, with the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Physical Therapy Association and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association all publishing letters opposing the cut. 

“The rates as they stand today are not super sustainable,” said Erin Michael, PT, ATP/SMS, an executive board member of the Clinician Task Force. 

Stakeholders are calling on clinicians to visit the websites of the AOTA, APTA and ASHA, where there are form letters that they can use to oppose the cuts.