Reporter's notebook: Removing barriers to care during pandemic

Monday, June 1, 2020

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. in April, NCART, NRRTS, U.S. Rehab and the Clinician Task Force were hosting weekly conference calls for the providers and clinicians trying their best to continue serving patients during the crisis.

Here are a few notes from those calls:

Prior authorizations paused

Stakeholders received confirmation in mid-April that prior authorizations for power mobility devices are not required during the crisis. Providers may continue to submit PA requests if they want, but if there are situations where these requests aren’t feasible, they’re still allowed to submit claims—they just have to use the CR modifier and mention COVID-19 in the narrative.

“These claims may be selected for post-payment review, however, so keep that in mind as you’re gathering information and making decisions,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “ADMCs are still available.”

Triaging needed

Providers have the tendency to think their more complex clients are their more urgent clients, but they may need to flip that mentality on its head during the crisis, stakeholders say.

“We want to make sure we’re getting those other people taken care of sooner, so that once this does open back up, the backlog of people who require immediate attention (can be a priority),” said Rita Stanley, vice president of government relations for Sunrise Medical. “If we can get those more basic products taken care of now vs. then, we’ll be a little more prepared when the times comes.”

Telehealth advisory

NCART in April was in the process of posting to its website a CRT Telehealth Advisory to summarize the importance of telehealth in serving patients who need complex rehab.

“We are not saying every (patient) should be eligible for telehealth,” Clayback said. “But it’s important to have as an option and let medical professionals decide if it’s appropriate for the client situation. There are in fact situations where for many clients it’s a positive and workable