Advocacy Needed for Telehealth with Medicare
Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy are only allowed to use telehealth during the Public Health Emergency for individuals with Medicare as their insurance provider. Once the Public Health Emergency is over, therapists will immediately not be reimbursed for telehealth services provided.
There is confusion around CMS adding many of the commonly used therapy CPT codes on a Category 3 basis. CMS has said that these category 3 CPT codes may be billed through the end of the year in which the Public Health Emergency ends. Because many therapy CPT codes are on this list, many have assumed that therapy staff can automatically use telehealth at least through the end of 2021.
Once the Public Health Emergency ends, therapy staff must immediately stop using telehealth if they wish to be reimbursed by Medicare.
These Category 3 common therapy CPT codes may be used for telehealth through the end of the year when billed by someone who is not a therapist. For example, after the Public Health Emergency ends, a nurse practitioner could bill telehealth for therapeutic exercise 97110 but an OT or PT could not bill Medicare for this via telehealth.
After the Public Health Emergency, the only way a therapist could continue to bill for telehealth for Medicare is if congress would make OT, PT, ST providers approved telehealth providers.
Our legislative advocacy must remain to make OT, PT, and ST services permanently approved telehealth providers for Medicare.