Expanded Telehealth Access Act Introduced to Include PTs, PTAs, OTs and Other Professionals

Posted By: Gail Heather Zitterkopf Practice & Advocacy,
Update from the APTA Pelvic Health Federal Affairs Chair
On March 23, 2021, the APTA-supported Expanded Telehealth Access Act was introduced by Reps. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., and David McKinley, R-W.Va., in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation would make permanent the current temporary policy that allows physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to deliver services provided via telehealth under Medicare.
Throughout the pandemic, expanded telehealth services have made it easier and safer for Medicare patients to access care in a timely fashion and helped vulnerable individuals stay safer by avoiding public medical settings. During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), CMS waived requirements that specify the types of providers that may bill for their services when furnished as Medicare telehealth services.   As a result, a broader range of providers are now providing telehealth services–including physical therapists and physical therapist assistants–to Medicare patients. However that temporary ability will end when the PHE is declared over.  Congress must act to make it permanent.
This legislation would expand the scope of providers eligible for payment for telehealth services under Medicare to include physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, as well as audiologists, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, speech language pathologists, and any additional health care provider who participates in Medicare and furnishes a service that is included as a telehealth service, as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Stay tuned for additional updates (including bill number) and opportunities to advocate in support of this legislation.