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NCART: Telehealth bill needs more support

NCART: Telehealth bill needs more support

YARMOUTH, Maine – NCART wants to ramp up support for a bill that would permanently expand access to telehealth services, including those provided by physical therapists and occupational therapists. 

H.R. 2168, which was re-introduced by Reps. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., and David McKinley, R-W.Va., on March 23, currently has 22 co-sponsors. 

“The important thing for this bill is that it specifies PTs, OTs and SLPs need to be considered permanent telehealth practitioners, so this bill is directly on our primary message around telehealth,” said Don Clayback, executive director. “So, we want to make sure we’re supporting this. I actually have a call with Rep. Sherrill’s office to talk with her staff and we’ll be expanding those conversations to see how we can continue to be helpful.” 

NCART put out a call to stakeholders in April to go to and reach out to their representatives to support H.R. 2168, which would make permanent reimbursement for telehealth services for PTs, OTs and others that has been in place during the public health emergency. 

Clayback expects another bill related to telehealth, the Connect for Health Act, to be re-introduced soon, but this bill will likely be broader and not specify PTs and OTs. 

“This bill would give CMS the authority to make certain practitioners permanent should they desire,” he said. “The ideal situation would be that this bill, along with H.R. 2168, would be joined into one common bill that would be passed sometime this year.” 

Clayback expects the PHE to be extended through the end of 2021, giving Congress time to pass a bill expanding telehealth services. 

“HHS, which is the authorizer of the public health emergency, has also indicated that there will be a 60-day advance notice when they decide they will not continue the renewal,” he said. “It is at least some comfort knowing that we will have 60-day advance notice, because there are a few things that are temporary that we’re looking to make permanent once the PHE expires.” 

Other updates: 

NCART has engaged the Administration for Community Living in its efforts to get CMS to permanently exempt accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs from competitive bidding pricing. An 18-month delay is set to expire July 1. 

Stakeholders, led by the ITEM Coalition, met with CMS’s medical policy team on March 25 to discuss Medicare coverage of power seat elevation and power standing systems. “CMS actually complimented the group on the information that was submitted from a clinical perspective, but they also indicated that there’s not much else they can be sharing at this time,” Clayback said. 


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