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COVID-19 Important News

posted: March 18 2021

Update: CMS is committed to continuing to take critical steps to ensure America’s healthcare facilities are prepared to respond to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency (PHE).

Visitation Guidance: CMS is issuing new guidance for visitation in nursing homes during the COVID-19 PHE, including the impact of COVID-19 vaccination.

Visitation is now allowed for all residents at all times.

More Details Here

posted: September 15 2020

CMS reviewed with States, nursing homes, and other stakeholders the updated COVID 19 Testing and Reporting Requirements based on the recent Interim Final Rule with Comment Period released on August 25, 2020.

In an effort to keep residents safe, strengthen surveillance, and further reduce viral transmission of COVID 19 in nursing homes, CMS Administrator Seema Verma along with Dr. Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Admiral Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presented the new regulatory requirements, guidance on how facilities can meet those requirements and available resources and technical assistance.

A copy of the presentation can be found here:

Recordings of the calls will be made available here

posted: July 14 2020

In June 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the formation of an independent Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes to review and assess the response to COVID-19. Last week, the commission launched an important opportunity for you to contribute to their work. 

•    Provide the commission with a publication or other resource to consider in their work (5-page limit).
•    Provide perspective (500-word limit) based on your experience with nursing homes.

There are also opportunities to express interest in learning more about the work of the commission, including your support for the well-being of nursing home residents and workers.

Click here for more information:

posted: July 07 2020

APTA’s academies and sections formed the Cross-Academy/Section COVID-19 Core Outcome Measure Task Force to identify a core set of outcome measures for patients diagnosed with COVID-19, across the continuum of care and in all settings. A core set of outcome measures aids in describing the trajectory of recovery from COVID-19 and facilitates research initiatives.

posted: June 17 2020

As of June 16, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its toolkit to guide states in mitigating the prevalence of COVID-19 within nursing homes. The toolkit is a compilation of information providing detailed quality improvement resources, and addresses issues including infection control, workforce and staffing, and use of telehealth. The agency previously cautioned that the toolkit is provided solely as an “informational product, and is “not intended as guidance from CMS.” 
The toolkit includes:
•    States actions for COVID-19 management and response;
•    Information on telehealth; and
•    Organizations available to assist nursing homes.

The toolkit can be found at:

posted: May 29 2020

CMS announces that outpatient therapy furnished via telehealth can be reported on institutional claim during COVID-19 PHE


Breaking news!

CMS has updated its coronavirus waivers FAQs to add a new section on outpatient therapy and telehealth and announces that outpatient therapy furnished via telehealth can be reported on an institutional claim during the COVID-19 PHE.

Please find below the 3 new FAQs addressing this and two other common questions.

Question: Can outpatient therapy services that are furnished via telehealth and separately paid under Part B be reported on an institutional claim (e.g., UB-04) during the COVID-19 PHE?

Answer: Yes, outpatient therapy services that are furnished via telehealth, and are separately paid and not included as part of a bundled institutional payment, can be reported on institutional claims with the “-95” modifier applied to the service line.

This includes:

    • Hospital – 12X or 13X (for hospital outpatient therapy services);
    • Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) – 22X or 23X (SNFs may, in some circumstances, furnish Part B physical therapy (PT)/occupational therapy (OT)/speech-language pathology (SLP) services to their own long-term residents);
    • Critical Access Hospital (CAH) – 85X (CAHs may separately provide and bill for PT, OT, and SLP services on 85X bill type);
    • Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF) – 75X (CORFs provide ambulatory outpatient PT, OT, SLP services);
    • Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (ORF) – 74X (ORFs, also known as rehabilitation agencies, provide ambulatory outpatient PT & SLP as well as OT services); and
    • Home Health Agency (HHA) – 34X (agencies may separately provide and bill for outpatient PT/OT/SLP services to persons in their homes only if such patients are not under a home health plan of care).

New: 5/27/20

Question: Can therapy services furnished using telecommunications technology be paid separately in a Medicare Part A skilled nursing facility (SNF) stay?

Answer: Provision of therapy services using telecommunications technology (consistent with applicable state scope of practice laws) does not change rules regarding SNF consolidated billing or bundling. For example, Medicare payment for therapy services is bundled into the SNF Prospective Payment System (PPS) rate during a SNF covered Part A stay, regardless of whether or not they are furnished using telecommunications technology. Therapy services furnished to a SNF resident, whether in person or as telehealth services, during a non-covered SNF stay (Part A benefits exhausted, SNF level of care requirement not met, etc.) must be billed to Part B by the SNF itself using bill type 22X, regardless of whether or not they are furnished using telecommunications technology.

New: 5/27/20

Question: Can outpatient therapy services be furnished and paid separately for patients receiving Medicare home health services?

Answer: No. For patients under a home health plan of care, payment for therapy services (unless provided by physicians/non-physician practitioners) is included or bundled into Medicare’s payment to the HHA, and those services must be billed by the HHA under the HHA consolidated billing rules. Patients should first be assessed for whether they are eligible to receive therapy services under the home health benefit prior to initiating outpatient therapy services. Receiving therapy services under the home health benefit may be in the best interest of the patient as there is no applicable coinsurance, copay, or deductible for such services (with the exception of negative pressure wound therapy using a disposable device), and the patient may also have a need for skilled nursing services, home health aide services, or medical social services under the home health benefit. However, if the patient is not eligible for home health care, including when it is not possible to provide in-person therapy services in the patient’s home (i.e., the patient is not under a home health plan of care), then outpatient therapy furnished via telehealth under Part B could be an appropriate alternative and separately billed, assuming all applicable requirements are otherwise met.

New: 5/27/20

Begins on page 70:

posted: May 23 2020

WEBINAR – COVID-19 Expert Panel: You’ve Got Clinical Questions, Let’s See if We Have Answers
MAY 23, 2020

COVID-19 has changed many things in our day-to-day lives, including how we interact with patients. Different practice settings face unique challenges in meeting the needs of this patient population and the COVID-19 disease process itself continues to evolve. Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants must continue to change as well. Join our group of content experts for a Q&A session to discuss solutions and lessons learned during this pandemic.

Objectives for this webinar:
• Participants will be able to describe skin challenges and interventions unique to the patient with COID-19.
• Participants will discuss issues around staffing and PPE usage.
• Participants will describe clinical challenges raised by COVID-19 in clinical practice, including ways practicing clinicians have addressed these various challenges.
• Participants will describe aspects of physical reconditioning of the COVID patient, including problems and strategies.

View the recording here:

COVID-19 Resource Compilation (Google Doc)
Self-Proning Handout (Word Doc)

posted: May 14 2020

APTA’s COVID-19 Hub Community is now open to all APTA members to share resources and communicate with other members related to COVID-19. Subject matter experts from APTA sections intend to help provide general guidance to questions posted.

Members are encouraged to share clinical content they find on other websites or in their practice.

posted: May 14 2020

CMS released a new toolkit developed to aid nursing homes, Governors, states, departments of health, and other agencies who provide oversight and assistance to these facilities, with additional resources to aid in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic within nursing homes. The toolkit builds upon previous actions taken by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which provide a wide range of tools and guidance to states, healthcare providers and others during the public health emergency. The toolkit is comprised of best practices from a variety of front line health care providers, Governors’ COVID-19 task forces, associations and other organizations, and experts, and is intended to serve as a catalogue of resources dedicated to addressing the specific challenges facing nursing homes as they combat COVID-19.

posted: May 12 2020

The pandemic has raised the pressing question of how society should allocate scarce resources during a crisis. This is the question experts addressed today in a new position statement published by the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (DOI: 10.1111/jgs.16537). The statement focuses primarily on whether age should be considered when making decisions to allocate scarce resources. Read more here:

posted: May 02 2020

Check out these excellent evidence-based resources to help you motivate older adults to engage in physical activity during the coronavirus pandemic and directives for social distancing and sheltering in place. Prepared by the Health Promotion and Wellness Special Interest Group. Download the PDF.

posted: April 23 2020

WCPT COVID-19 Information Hub

WCPT is a global hub for information and resources about COVID-19 relevant to the physiotherapy profession.

    • Campaigns related to COVID-19 and physiotherapy
    • Projects and activities to support the global profession and responses to the pandemic
    • Practice-based resources covering acute care, infection prevention and control, MSK, guidelines, education on COVID management, digital/telehealth and private practice
    • Education-based resources that support changes in physiotherapist entry-level education

posted: April 21 2020

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posted: April 21 2020

Geriatric Considerations is part of the PACER Project (Post-Acute COVID19 Exercise & Rehabilitation). This video, co-sponsored by APTA Geriatrics, is available for free CEUs on the APTA Learning Center for both APTA and non-APTA members. 

posted: March 30 2020

The Alzheimer’s Association is offering new guidance to help ensure the delivery of high-quality care for people living with Alzheimer’s and all dementia in long-term care and community-based settings during the current COVID-19 crisis.

The document released today is in collaboration with 34 long-term care and community-based care providers and affiliated associations. It identifies important care considerations and incorporates evidence-based strategies from the Alzheimer’s Association Dementia Care Recommendations to assist staff in long-term and community-based care settings during emergency situations. Many of the groups supporting the guidance document participate in the Alzheimer’s Association Dementia Care Provider Roundtable (AADCPR), a consortium of thought leaders from the dementia care provider industry including nursing homes, assisted living, and home and community-based services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens the health of millions, but it presents unique challenges for the more than 5 million America’s living with Alzheimer’s, especially those in long-term and community-based care, who are often the most frail and vulnerable,” said Doug Pace, NHA, director, mission partnerships, Alzheimer’s Association. “This document is aimed at helping providers who may face staffing shortages deliver high-quality dementia care during an emergency situation.”

The new document provides care tips and guidance in several key areas, including:

    • Preventing illness
    • Providing person-centered care
    • Helping families and friends stay connected
    • Monitoring and responding to dementia-related issues, including assistance with eating and drinking, mobility and observing and responding to dementia-related behaviors

“In emergency situations, long-term and community-based care providers may experience staffing shortages or have to use non-clinical staff to assist with care,” Pace said. “This document can be used to focus staff very quickly on the most important considerations in caring for persons with dementia. It emphasizes person-centered care, which is the essential starting point for delivering optimal care. Individuals living with dementia thrive best with a consistent routine and with person-centered approaches. During emergency situations these practices are even more important.”

Thought leaders and organizations representing nursing homes, assisted living, and home and community-based services are supporting the guidance document and will be sharing it with their staff and employees across the country.

“The document outlines the most important dementia care considerations in the current environment,” said Letitia Jackson, senior vice president, Senior Star and chair, AADCPR. “Person-centered care is something the Roundtable members strive for to support those living with dementia every day. This document serves as an important reminder that this remains the goal even during a crisis.”

According to the 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, 48% percent of nursing home residents are living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Among older adults in residential facilities, including assisted living, 42% or more have some form of Alzheimer’s or other dementias. In addition, many individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias receive community-based services, including 32% of individuals using home health services and 31% using adult day services.

“The COVID-19 crisis is creating anxiety and disruption for all Americans,” said Patrick Doyle, Ph.D., Regional Vice President of Operations, Brightview Senior Living, and vice-chair, AADCPR. “People living with dementia are especially vulnerable because they cannot adapt easily to the current realities. Providing guidance to help care and support people living with dementia during this challenging time is really beneficial.” “The Alzheimer’s Association is very appreciative of all of the organizations that have collaborated with us and are supporting this important guidance,” Pace said. “Having consensus on these important care considerations will help in the delivery of high-quality dementia care even during this uncertain time.”

About the Alzheimer’s Association: The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit or call 800.272.3900.

See the document here:

posted: March 30 2020

CMS has issued an electronic toolkit regarding telehealth and telemedicine for Long Term Care Nursing Home Facilities. Under President Trump’s leadership to respond to the need to limit the spread of community COVID-19, CMS has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. This document contains electronic links to reliable sources of information regarding telehealth and telemedicine, including the significant changes made by CMS over the last week in response to the National Health Emergency. Most of the information is directed towards providers who may want to establish a permanent telemedicine program, but there is information here that will help in the temporary deployment of a telemedicine program as well. There are specific documents identified that will be useful in choosing telemedicine vendors, equipment, and software, initiating a telemedicine program, monitoring patients remotely, and developing documentation tools. There is also information that will be useful for providers who intend to care for patients through electronic virtual services that may be temporarily used during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The toolkit can be accessed here:

posted: March 27 2020

A new set of recommendations for provision of physical therapist services related to COVID-19 in the acute hospital setting acknowledges the necessity of involvement of PTs well-trained in respiratory physical therapy, but cautions that facilities should be judicious in their use. Read more here

Download the recommendations here. 

posted: March 25 2020

APTA’s Interactive Audio and Video Telecommunications System Matrix – This is a telehealth platform spread sheet which lists several quality platforms along with descriptions and costs so that the reader can compare. This is not an endorsement of any one platform and was a collaborative effort between APTA Regulatory Affairs, FIRST Council and HPA Tech SIG. The link is currently at the bottom of the HPA COVID 19 page.

posted: March 25 2020

This is a big share for anyone who may need to access EHR record of a pt. (Post acute care and private practice may be very interested) – more complete information with links on HPA COVID -19 page about a quarter way down on the page:

Kno2 is making their portal available for purposes of On Demand Patient Record Retrieval Service available at NO CHARGE (during the state of emergency) to all of post-acute including LTACs, IRFs, Skilled Nursing, Homecare/Home Health, Therapy Providers, etc. This provides an opportunity to access the most recent patient records of other providers in the community as we treat patients during this public health crisis.

posted: March 23 2020

The International Association of Physical Therapists Working with Older People (IPTOP), a component of the World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT) of which APTA Geriatrics is a member organization, has compiled a list of available resources and social media links to support physiotherapists and older adults during this time. It is available to IPTOP members and colleagues here:

posted: March 20 2020

APTA released a Statement on Patient Care and Practice Management During COVID-19 Outbreak, discussing how to use the CDC guidance in making patient care determinations.

posted: March 20 2020

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) have shared their Guidance for Therapy Personnel in LTC Facilities During COVID-19 Pandemic. These are based on the CDC guidelines for LTC facilities (including skilled nursing centers and assisted living communities), and recommend individualized care plans and goals for each resident assessed to determine which therapies are essential at this time.

posted: March 20 2020

Broad River Rehab recorded the following webinar: Staying Close to the Ones You Love with Televisits