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COVID-19, Physical Therapy & Reimbursement: Telehealth in a Pandemic

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is creating a heavy burden on nearly every medical field. The same is true regarding the traditional hands-on relationship between physical therapists and their patients. Having a plan in place to provide for your patients while protecting them and your staff from the spread of infection is of utmost importance in this uncertain period.

The American Physical Therapy Association has published a new advisory regarding the use of telehealth in physical therapy clinics. While legislation recently enacted by Congress allows the Department of Health and Human Services to waive certain Medicare telehealth restrictions, questions remain regarding proper coding for reimbursement. To that end, APTA has provded additional guidance on the proper way to bill for telehealth services:

"There are not specific CPT codes for telehealth services furnished by physical therapists. Some therapists use codes in the 97000 series that best describe the services being provided and then use the place of service code "02" to indicate that the services were provided remotely. Because the CPT codes are direct contact codes it is important to verify that the payer allows you to use these codes when services are provided via telehealth, or if you must use a specific modifier. We also encourage you to check with each payer about using place-of-service code "02" when billing for telehealth services to specify the entity where service(s) were rendered."

Individual state laws still govern Medicaid coverage of telehealth services, so it's important to check with your state's existing regulations or for any recently enacted legislation due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

The first priority in every clinic during pandemic should be the safety and welfare of your patients and staff. Take precautions and ensure you are following state and federal recommendations to help prevent the further spread of disease in your community.


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