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CMS opens up telehealth to therapists

CMS opens up telehealth to therapists

WASHINGTON - CMS announced last week that it will allow occupational therapists and physical therapists to provide telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic, a big win for complex rehab stakeholders.

The agency has waived the limitations on the types of clinical practitioners that can furnish Medicare telehealth services. Previously, only doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and certain others could provide these services.

“This has been a major request from us, along with others,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, during a webcast last week. “This opens up significant opportunities for OTs and PTs, not only for complex rehab but also other areas.”

What's more, CMS announced that it added CPT 97542—a code used by OTs and PTs for “wheelchair management”—to the list of approved codes for telehealth services.

The agency paved the way for this to happen by changing its process of adding new telehealth services to a sub-regulatory process, instead of a rulemaking process, allowing it to consider requests by practitioners.

“It's a positive that they're opening up a new system�that will enable them to be more responsive to practitioners actually using those codes,” Clayback said.

NCART will take these latest changes from CMS and share them with state Medicaid programs that have not already allowed OTs and PTs to provide telehealth services.

“The fact that Medicare is opening that up officially should make those states more comfortable,” Clayback said.


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