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On Thursday, May 28, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) clarified that it will allow physical, occupational and speech therapy practitioners in a SNF, through Part B billing on a UB-04, to provide Medicare-covered telehealth services as long as a federal coronavirus emergency declaration remains in effect. 

After more than a month of federal government telehealth expansions, SNF PTs, OTs and SLPs have now been added to the list to provide remote interventions under Medicare part B. Prior to the expansion, therapists were unable to provide vital services remotely to patients in facilities experiencing lockdowns, creating further barriers in their recovery journey.

Therapists will now be able to provide virtual care to their patients and contribute in the fight to end the spread of COVID-19. Not only will this aid in a patient's overall recovery journey, but after many weeks of strict isolation in SNFs and other facilities, the reintroduction of therapy-patient interaction will begin to bring a sense of normalcy to those greatly impacted by statewide shutdown policies.

In a recent article published in Skilled Nursing News, Cynthia Morton, Executive Vice President of the National Association for the Support of Long-Term Care (NASL), expressed her gratitude regarding the CMS announcement and is optimistic that facilities will now be able to use this technology to deliver necessary services to their residents.

CMS also noted in the article that this expansion “frees up physical and occupational therapists to perform other important services and improve beneficiary access." CMS will continue to adapt its processes during the emergency by adding new telehealth services on a sub-regulatory basis, in turn, speeding up the process of adding services.

Since the initial announcement of CMS waivers, the number of Medicare providers utilizing telehealth services jumped from 11,000 to 650,000 – showcasing the importance of this service for providers and their patients.

RehabCare looks forward to using lessons learned in our Outpatient clinics providing telehealth to now provide vital therapy services to our patients in our SNF and AL/IL facilities impacted by government restrictions and isolation.

Read the Skilled Nursing News article for more information surrounding the CMS announcement

By RehabCare