Dear WOTA members,
Many OT professionals have asked questions about providing services via telemedicine, especially as we plan to adapt to the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are some thoughts and resources to guide you in deciding how to best continue serving your patients in these difficult times:
- Department of Health information for the COVID-19 outbreak: We recommend you read this first! https://www.doh.wa.gov/emergencies/coronavirus.
- Here are links to the Department of Health’s information for healthcare providers about the outbreak: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/HealthcareProviders.
- OT professionals may practice via telemedicine in Washington State. Here’s the regulation governing OT practice via telehealth: https://app.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=246-847-176. Additionally, here is a telehealth resource from AOTA https://www.aota.org/Practice/Manage/telehealth.aspx?fbclid=IwAR3ZFJkdI-CrbjzalzL0S6TaXiuZtDoM5VkxgYSXp_OjVARfPvzgTi-r3Xc
- Medicaid has not historically paid for services via telehealth, but Washington Apple Health has issued new guidance for providers to help ensure access to care during the outbreak. https://www.hca.wa.gov/assets/billers-and-providers/telehealth-brief-for-COVID-03-2020.pdf. This link includes resources on each of Washington’s Medicaid managed care plans.
- Private insurers are required to pay for services provided by telemedicine from an in-network provider. https://www.insurance.wa.gov/health-insurance-and-coronavirus-covid-19-frequently-asked-questions. They may reimburse at your usual rate or at a reduced rate. The Association of Health Insurance Plans has a website linking to several insurers’ new policies to waive co-insurance for telehealth services: https://www.ahip.org/health-insurance-providers-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19/. If you are not sure about the coverage for any individual patient, we recommend contacting the health carrier providing coverage to determine their policy.
- Free testing for uninsured people: Governor Inslee has announced that the state will cover the cost of COVID-19 testing for uninsured people: https://www.kuow.org/stories/wa-state-to-cover-covid-19-tests-for-the-uninsured.
- Thursday, March 19, 2020, the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers will host a free webinar on Telehealth and COVID-19. It will be held at 12:00 pm Mountain /11:00 am Pacific / 10:00 am Alaska time. Click here to register for this timely, free webinar.
March 15th Updates:
- Apple Health (Medicaid) Provider Alert – HCA has posted frequently asked questions about COVID-19 clinical policy and billing for Apple Health (Medicaid) providers. It provides information about telemedicine, services delivered via other modalities, billing, and coding. For additional information:
March 18th Updates:
- Governor Inslee announces relief for businesses, workers, renters, and more in response to COVID-19 outbreak https://medium.com/wagovernor/inslee-announces-relief-for-businesses-workers-renters-and-more-in-response-to-covid-19-outbreak-c09c13a02690
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Partner Toolkit – https://www.cms.gov/outreach-education/partner-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-partner-toolkit
March 23rd Updates:
- Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) supports increased telehealth options for Medicaid clients, public and school employees – https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WAHCA/bulletins/282c624
- Washington State Department of Commerce – Disaster Assistance Now Available to all Washington Small Businesses Economically Impacted by COVID-19 – https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WADOC/bulletins/2829660
- Proclamation by the Governor 20-25 – Employment in essential business services means an essential employee performing work for an essential business as identified in the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” list, or carrying out minimum basic operations (as defined in Section 3(d) of this Order) for a non-essential business. – https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/WA%20Essential%20Critical%20Infrastructure%20Workers%20%28Final%29.pdf
- Health care providers and caregivers (e.g., physicians, dentists, psychologists, mid-level practitioners, nurses and assistants, infection control and quality assurance personnel, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists and assistants, midwives and doulas attending facility-based or home-based births, alternative healthcare providers, social workers, speech pathologists and diagnostic and therapeutic technicians and technologists)
March 24th Updates:
- Commerce and Employment Security Department leaders partner for economic resilience and recovery effort during COVID-19 outbreak – https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WADOC/bulletins/282b7b3
- Kreidler orders health insurers to expand telehealth, testing coverage, extend premium grace periods – https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WAOIC/bulletins/2830446
March 25th Updates:
Unemployment resources in Washington (with emergency rules extending to less than full time and additional weeks of standby unemployment when returning to your closed / limited clinic) –
Food bank locations – https://www.foodbanks.net/state/wa.html
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), called Basic Food in Washington – https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/community-services-offices/basic-food
Small Business Loans – https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
Additional COVID-19 Related Resources from AOTA – https://www.aota.org/Publications-News/AOTANews/2020/coronavirus-resources.aspx?promo_name=coronavirus&promo_creative=Advocacy-Policy&promo_position=hero
- Healthcare parity – The governor signed a proclamation today that provides payment parity between health care providers. In order to serve more patients, Inslee has signed a measure that would increase the parity between those health care providers who deliver in-person care and those who do it through telemedicine. Telemedicine claims must now be reimbursed at the same level as care delivered face-to-face. Telemedicine claims cannot be denied by insurance carriers.
- SB 5385, passed by the legislature would do the same thing, although its implementation date was not set until January 2021. The governor’s action will allow this to go into effect immediately to help increase access to care during the COVID-19 outbreak.
April 15th Update
- Business & Workers Weekly Update – https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WADOC/bulletins/286a29b
April 18th Update
- Updates from the Employment Security Department – https://esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19#stimulus
Please reach out with additional OT-specific questions. We appreciate all you are doing to stay safe and care for your patients and loved ones.