COVID-19 Updates

Please scroll this page for important information regarding public health and other COVID-19 resources as they apply to the physical therapy community

Click here to see the experiences and insights of your peers during COVID-19 

A Message from the OPTA Board of Directors

March 23, 2020 - We appreciate the questions and concerns expressed by some of our members regarding the continued provision of services provided by both PTs and PTAs during this period of restriction on movement and social distancing in response to the impact of the COVID-19 virus. The OPTA Board of Directors and staff are monitoring the recommendations from government and private agencies, as well as the APTA, in order to provide up to date information to our members and the impact on our services. Although we are not restricted from providing these services, we are advised to use our professional judgment as to whether and how to conduct these services for the protection of our patient, clients, caregivers, ourselves, and staff. Here is current information and related resources.

 

Governor Kate Brown has issued Executive Order 20-12, effective today, March 23, 2020Read the full text of the executive order. Page 4 of EO 20-12 does not include closure of any medical clinic, including physical therapy. The State of Oregon has provided a summary of recommendations, including the provision of exceptions for "hospitals and healthcare".

OPTA represents members who work in all physical therapy sectors. We are working with the information made available from our federal, state and local agencies. We rely on physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to follow our shared core values, and most of all, to do no harm in the settings where they practice. Our position is aligned with that of the American Physical Therapy Association as expressed by President Sharon Dunn.

APTA is regularly providing updates and resources to support implementing telehealth and e-visits as a means to continue care and protect the safety of the public. Members are encouraged to regularly visit the APTA website and the Oregon Board of Physical Therapy for the most recent updates and resources. Several sections of the APTA have developed free resources to help inform and guide decision-making:

  • Private Practice Section 

  • Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy and HPA-The Catalyst"Acute Care Physical Therapy and COVID-19: How Can We Add the Greatest Value?" Download this document for the recording link and handouts from their free webinar.

The CDC provides guidance to healthcare providers who must, in their clinical judgement and in collaboration with the patient, provide in-person direct care. Members are urged to review and adopt the most current recommendations in the interest of public health and patient management.   

We hope this information is helpful as we all work together to address the widespread and extensive impact of this virus.  Stay safe and be well.

Respectfully,
OPTA Board of Directors


Public health resources

APTA Coronavirus Update

Social Media accounts to follow/retweet

  • @pps_apta
  • @aptatweets

Payor resources

April 6 2020 Aetna Announces Telehealth Coverage

Aetna will reimburse physical therapy telehealth services provided by qualified health care professionals. State laws and regulations apply. Benefits will be processed in accordance with the member’s plan. For out-of-network providers, please contact Aetna to confirm if the member's plan benefits allow telehealth services. This change is effective immediately for dates of service April 2, 2020 and thereafter. 

Aetna will cover CPT codes 97161, 97162, 97163, 97164, 97110, 97112, 97116, 97535, 97755, 97760, and 97761. The telehealth care must be provided as a two-way synchronous (real-time) audiovisual service. Providers are required to append the GT modifier to the codes. For telehealth services delivered by institution-based physical therapists they may be billed on a UB04 claim form using modifier GT or 95.

March 30, 2020Clinicians can now provide more services to beneficiaries via telehealth so that clinicians can take care of their patients while mitigating the risk of the spread of the virus. Under the public health emergency, all beneficiaries across the country can receive Medicare telehealth and other communications technology- based services wherever they are located. Clinicians can provide these services to new or established patients. In addition, providers can waive Medicare copayments for these telehealth services for beneficiaries in Original Medicare. Therapy Services, Physical and Occupational Therapy, All levels (CPT codes 97161- 97168; CPT codes 97110, 97112, 97116, 97535, 97750, 97755, 97760, 97761, 92521- 92524, 92507)

March 28, 2020 - Tell CMS to Cover Telehealth Services Furnished by PTs and PTAs Under Medicare

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD TODAY: Tell CMS to cover telehealth services furnished by PTs and PTAs under Medicare. The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, gives broad waiver authority to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to waive the restrictions on the types of providers who may provide and bill for telehealth services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 emergency period. It is important to note that this legislation, while giving the authority to the HHS Secretary (and thereby CMS) to expand the types of providers eligible to furnish telehealth services under Medicare, does not require the Secretary to take such action. 

Therefore, we are encouraging all PTs, PTAs, and physical therapy students to use this template letter to tell CMS to expand the types of providers eligible to furnish telehealth services under Medicare to include physical therapists and physical therapist assistants during the COVID-19 public health emergency. [Submission instructions are at the top of the letter].

 

Non-Payor-Related Telehealth resources

APTA

  • March 28, 2020COVID Stimulus Package Includes Payment Increase, Opens Possibility of Increased Telehealth
  • March 28, 2020 - Physical Therapy Support During COVID-19 Pandemic: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, APTA is working with other organizations and members to connect volunteers with facilities that need physical therapy services. Here are ways physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and physical therapy students can provide essential healthcare services during this time:
    • In the acute phase: Physical therapists can help optimize and free up scarce hospital resources in the following ways: (1) getting patients moving and independent through treatment of their conditions and training on proper use of assistive devices to facilitate discharge, and (2) cardiorespiratory physical therapy to reduce the need and duration of mechanical ventilation. We are currently provided with a window of opportunity where physical therapists can and must work in hospitals to free up needed ICU beds and ventilators. Each day, this window of opportunity narrows, as we approach the response phase.
    • In the response phase: Demand for ICU care and ventilators have the high likelihood of outweighing the supply. Physical therapists have an essential role in responding to COVID-19 by treating patients who have cardiorespiratory conditions associated with the virus. This can reduce the need for mechanical ventilation and reduce the duration resulting in more favorable outcomes for patients, and thus a faster turnaround time for acute health care resources.
    • In the recovery phase: Countries will be recovering from the medical, financial, and social impacts of COVID-19 for years to come. As we recover from the effects of COVID-19, people will be returning to work. Physical therapists have an essential role in improving mobility, function, mental health, and quality of life to get individuals back to work faster after contracting the virus.
PTs, PTAs, and Students: Volunteer via APTA Engage. A member of our team will contact you to match you with a facility in your area that needs assistance.
For Facilities: Facilities and practices looking for volunteers. To find volunteers, complete APTA's online form, outlining your facility's needs. A member of our team will contact you with volunteers that can be of assistance during this time.

Employee/Employer Resources

OSHA - Workers' Rights

Payroll Protection Program through CARES Act - Contact the SBA or your lender for additional information.

Please note the Small Business Administration has opened its Paycheck Protection Program to assist with small business relief.  SBA expects many small businesses to apply, so eligible small businesses should reach out to their banks and begin preparing their applications.

  • March 30, 2020 - FSBPT and jurisdictional licensing boards are receiving many questions about what role physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) may play during the response phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. This information may be helpful for regulators when addressing these questions and draws heavily from the 2019 FSBPT Practice Analyses for Entry-level Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants
  • March 30, 2020CARES Act, Payroll Protection Program and Expanded Unemployment Benefits Available Now 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. See a detailed summary of the new law, provided by the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
  • March 25, 2020Oregon Coronavirus Update - The Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services sent this bulletin at 03/25/2020 05:20 PM PDT
  • March 25, 2020 - In collaboration with the Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy and the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section, HPA The Catalyst will be hosting a webinar THIS SATURDAY, March 28, 2020 on COVID-19. 

  • COVID-19: Clinical Best Practices in Physical Therapy Management
    11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Eastern 
    (This Webinar is full - the RECORDING of this webinar will be available on Monday, March 30)

  • PPS website updates
  • On behalf of the AGPT Health Promotion and Wellness SIG please post the following resources on staying active during the coronavirus-pandemic. They are both really helpful for clinicians wanting to encourage physical activity.  
    • The first is from NCOA
    • The second is from Exercise is Medicine. It is nice because it has both activity suggestions and COVID recommendations. 
  • CMS and US Treasury Announce Relief Measures for Clinicians
    • Today the U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Labor announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits
    • CMS Announces Relief for Clinicians, Providers, Hospitals and Facilities Participating in Quality Reporting Programs in Response to COVID-19


A message from OPTA President, Christina Howard, regarding COVID-19 and Telehealth Services