Critical Resources for Physical Therapists During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Below is a link to telehealth payment updates as of January 19, 2021. Please remember, payer policy is fluid!
APTA Wisconsin is working with APTA and our lobbyists to advocate for PTs/PTAs in all practice settings in regards to vaccine distribution. A letter will be sent to the immunization program manager, Governor and DHS urging them to recognize PTs and PTAs as essential health care personnel who must be prioritized for purposes of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration. We will share more information via email and on the APTA Wisconsin website as it becomes available.
Additional information from the APTA can be found at https://www.apta.org/article/2020/12/22/vaccine-list
Below you will find information about the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) that is actively engaging the public as they plan vaccine distribution. Please know that their goal is to ensure the vaccine is distributed as quickly and responsibly as possible, when it is available. Vaccines will not be available all at once, and it is important to remember this will be a rolling process.
All meetings of the committee are open to the public and public comment is encouraged.
DHS Vaccine Website Vaccine Information
CDC Vaccine Guidance
State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC)
As a follow-up to APTA’s first COVID-19 impact study, we now have state-specific survey data available. The charts in the Wisconsin focused report correspond to the charts found in the national-level report, https://www.apta.org/apta-and-you/news-publications/2020/impact-of-covid-19-on-the-physical-therapy-profession.
There were 175 survey respondents for Wisconsin. While the number of respondents was lower, there were similiarities between Wisconsin and the national data. You can review the state specific numbers here
Physicians and Other Clinicians: CMS Flexibilities to Fight COVID-19
Great news for therapists and their Medicare patients!
Page 1 of the fact sheet (https://www.cms.gov/files/document/summary-covid-19-emergency-declaration-waivers.pdf) says:
Pursuant to authority granted under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that broadens the waiver authority under section 1135 of the Social Security Act, the Secretary has authorized additional telehealth waivers. CMS is waiving the requirements of section 1834(m)(4)(E) of the Act and 42 CFR § 410.78 (b)(2) which specify the types of practitioners that may bill for their services when furnished as Medicare telehealth services from the distant site. The waiver of these requirements expands the types of health care professionals that can furnish distant site telehealth services to include all those that are eligible to bill Medicare for their professional services. This allows health care professionals who were previously ineligible to furnish and bill for Medicare telehealth services, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and others, to receive payment for Medicare telehealth services.
On page 32 it says an effective date of March 1, 2020 and on page 31 it says that “Waivers under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act typically end no late rthan the termination of the emergency period, or 60 days from the date the waiver or modification is first published. The Secretary can extend the waiver by notice for additional periods of up to 60 days, up to the end of the emergency period.”
This means that PTs can do true telehealth billing a limited set of CPT codes: 97161- 97164, 97110, 97112, 97116, 97535, 97750, 97755, 97760, and 97761.
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today issued Emergency Order #22 to position the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to continue providing its critical services by giving it flexibility to adapt to the new environments and circumstances due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. It covers a range of service areas and constituents, including fire departments, construction services, physical therapists and certified public accountants—all of which have faced new challenges as a result of this public health emergency.
Administrative Rule Suspensions and Orders
Admin. Rule: Wis. Admin. Code § PT 5.01(2)(b)
Description of Rule: Supervision of physical therapist assistants.
Status: Suspended in part as follows: “Have
direct face-to-face contact with the physical therapist assistant at least every 14 calendar days , unless the board approves another type of contact.”
Admin. Rule: Wis. Admin. Code § PT 5.01(2)(h)
Description of Rule: Supervision of physical therapist assistants.
Status: Suspended in part as follows: “Provide
on-site assessment and reevaluation of each patient’s treatment at a minimum of one time per calendar month or every tenth treatment day, whichever is sooner, and adjust the treatment plan as appropriate.”
Emergency Order 16 FAQ and Telehealth Guidance
Dear Health Care Provider,
The Department of Safety and Professional Services (Department) has received numerous inquiries regarding Emergency Order 16 and also the status of telemedicine/telehealth practice as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The emergency covers a wide range of issues across many health care professions. The order took action that will make it easier to quickly expand the health care workforce by readmitted those with expired licenses and by welcoming providers from other states. It will also enhance flexibility so providers can more effectively respond to areas of greatest need. Please read the order, linked above, and also reference this Frequently Asked Questions document for clarifications. Both address individuals who have expired licenses and wish to return to practice.
Also, the order addresses telemedicine specifically, but we have also received questions about telehealth practice for other providers. The practice of telehealth is generally allowed under existing Wisconsin law unless there is some profession-specific requirement or restriction. Credential holders must use their professional judgment to determine if telehealth is appropriate for the patient or client being treated, to abide by all other applicable rules of practice and professional conduct, and to be properly credentialed or authorized to practice in the state of Wisconsin. If someone can practice in Wisconsin via an Emergency Order, a compact, or a temporary or permanent license, that individual can practice telehealth in Wisconsin and provide services to Wisconsin residents to the same extent as similarly licensed Wisconsin practitioners.
The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board has the only telemedicine rule currently in effect in Wisconsin. This rule may be found at Wis. Admin. Code Med chapter 24. While this rule applies only to the Medical Examining Board, many of the concepts in this rule may be informative to credential holders in other professions. Here is a link to this rule. Note that portions of this rule were suspended when Governor Evers issued Emergency Order 16. Please review both Med chapter 24 as well as the statutory and rule provisions governing your profession when evaluating telemedicine/telehealth practice options during the COVID-10 public health emergency.
The Department is not able to answer legal questions regarding what the standard of care requires for any specific profession or any specific situation a credential holder may encounter. If practice-related questions arise, the Department encourages credential holders to consult with a supervisor, with their own private or institutional legal counsel, with their colleagues within the profession, or other sources familiar with their profession’s standards of practice. Profession-related statutes and rules can be found by clicking on a profession under the Rule/Statutes column here.
Also, there have been recent changes to Medicaid reimbursement of telehealth services. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued guidance on telehealth reimbursement changes and status during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The guidance is available here. The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance has also sent this letter regarding related insurance (malpractice) issues to insurers.
This information will be posted to our website. Please visit often, as we are updating it daily as decisions are made and new information is available.
Dawn B. Crim
Department of Safety and Professional Services
- Health and Wellness
- Headspace: An online company specializing in meditation, is offering a free subscription through 2020 for health care providers. Please provide your NPI number to access.
- HoursTV Stress Management Apps: Here Are the Top Stress Management Apps During Time of Coronavirus
- Information for APTA Members: This link will provide you with resources from APTA.
- Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy: Fostering excellence in acute care practice, in all settings, in order to enhance the health and functioning of patients and clients.
- Patient Telehealth Action Center: Tell Congress to waive restrictions on the use of Telehealth for physical therapist services.
- APTA Private Practice Section: Information on advocacy; payment policy; education on practice management, business, marketing, public relations, and business innovation.
- Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy: A web page with online resources for our educators and clinicians to use with their students and patients.
- The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE): Need additional CAPTE Guidance? Review the CAPTE Response to COVID-19.
- APTA Telehealth Resources: News and guidance regarding telehealth practice and advocating for it in your state.
- Charts from APTA Track Payer, Government PT Telehealth Policies: The new resources from APTA are intended to be used as quick-reference guides to help you stay on top of changes in whether and how telehealth can be used in physical therapy â€” PTs should still check with payers and state governments.
- Governor Evers's Office: Find all news and information issued from Governor Evers's office.
- WisconsinEye: View the governor's press conference and other government updates on the coronavirus
- Wisconsin Department of Health: The latest news straight from the Wisconsin Department of Health.
- WI Department of Safety and Professional Services: Important information from the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Examining Board
- Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development: Find more information on unemployment in Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin Small Business Development Center: Economic resources for Wisconsin's businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy: Protecting the public by providing service and leadership that promote safe and competent physical therapy practice. New Release - Possible Roles for PTs and PTAs during the COVID-19 Pandemic (3/30/2020)
- National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health: Promoting the capacity of State Offices of Rural Health and their stakeholders to improve health in rural America through leadership development, advocacy, education and partnerships. New Release - Telehealth Resource Centers/Medicare (3/23/2020)
- CDC Website: Your guide from the CDC on what steps to take if you are stick, how to prevent illness, and other resources.
- Surgeon General's Website: Providing you with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH): Official website of the world's foremost medical research centers.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: For information on the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices in the U.S.
- OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 Includes information on protection of workers with high exposure risk and personal protective equipment. Other OSHA information can be found here.
- COVID-19 Scams: Unfortunately, there are scams associated with this pandemic. Click this link to stay informed and learn how to avoid scams.
- World Health Organization (WHO): Find the latest WHO recommendations and implementation tools for government and organizations.
- CARES Act:The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27th, provides funding to small business owners and to employees as ways to support them and the economy during this public health crisis. View a summary from the APTA Private Practice Section.
This webpage will be updated as more information and resources are made available.