Complex rehab industry acts quickly

Stakeholders share policy changes with public and private payers, develop specific guidance for remote evaluations
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Friday, March 27, 2020

EAST AMHERST, N.Y. – NCART this month assembled a COVID-19 CRT Work Group consisting of providers, clinicians and manufacturers to identify issues, develop action plans and secure solutions.

One of the work group’s first action items: a formal request to CMS asking for temporary policy changes, including allowing video participation by ATPs to meet the in-person participation requirement.

“ATPs might not be able to get into hospitals; they might not be able to get into homes,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “We’re trying to look at all aspects of this pandemic.”

Other policy changes identified by the work group also focus on “remote evaluations,” including permitting video evaluations by licensed clinical medical professionals to meet the requirement for in-person specialty evaluations by LCMPs; and permitting phone interviews of customers/caretakers, or video assessments if needed, for home assessments. NCART, NRRTS and the Clinician Task Force have also assembled a work group to develop more specific guidance on remote evaluations.

Stakeholders will continue to focus, as well, on other day-to-day challenges that remote evaluations can’t necessarily solve.

“If you talk to someone who services a large rehab center—those patients still need to be discharged and they need loaner equipment,” said Weesie Walker, executive director of NRRTS. “How are they doing it? Can they do it? Will they be able to continue doing it? These are questions that we don’t have answers to yet. You can’t do that with telemedicine. We’re just beginning to see the far-reaching impact of this pandemic.”

In addition to CMS, NCART plans to send letters to state Medicaid programs, as a co-signer with AAHomecare, VGM and state/regional associations.

“We’re also gathering what regulations are being published in different states,” Clayback said. “New York just put out some positive guidelines around telehealth. Ideally, we’ll be sharing that with other states and saying, ‘Here’s a policy that resolves some issues.’”