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There has been a new bill presented to Congress that is aimed at broadening the types of healthcare workers utilizing telehealth during the COVID 19 pandemic to now include others such as physical and occupational therapists and social workers.

This act is being called The Emergency COVID-19 Telehealth Response Act.

New Bill Pushes Telehealth Coverage for Social Workers and Therapists

Under this act, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement would be extended to other forms of medical transcription such as physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists clinical social workers, and audiologists, just to name a few.

Many physical therapists are desperately seeking coverage for the usage of telehealth during the rise of the pandemic. The expansion of telehealth services has been a huge topic of discussion lately. Many providers look for modern ways to remain connected with patients in their homes during the pandemic. For many small practices, they have been forced to temporarily close due to quarantine rules, with the only remaining option to enter online health care.

Several actions were taken earlier this month as members of Congress reached out to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asking for expanded telehealth reimbursement through Medicare. In their efforts, they referenced the recent Cares act, which authorized the use of telehealth to be reimbursed under Medicare. Unfortunately, the act did not specify the exact providers eligible for reimbursement.

Several lawmakers have been concerned about expanding Medicare telehealth reimbursement due to the impact it would have on beneficiaries. They worry that there would be a lack of access for individuals relying on rehabilitative care that make it possible for them to perform daily activities.

They also claim that these beneficiaries are being left alone with underlying conditions that require in-person healthcare. Stay at home orders are preventing these individuals from seeking the care that they need. The current issues with Medicare coverage are compromising the wellbeing of these individuals.

The goal of this bill is to expand medical transcription access to telehealth to provide better care for patients. The creators of this bill understand that these types of therapies are extremely beneficial for young children and elderly patients. They also want to advance the protection of community workers by aiding the use of telehealth for social workers as well. The ultimate goal is to ensure that all Iowans can take the proper precautions during the pandemic while still having access to the services that they need.

Many organizations have already shown support for this bill. Some of these organizations include the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Hospital Association, American Academy of Audiology, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Occupational Therapist Association, and several others.