(March 31, 2020)
Thank you to those who took the time yesterday to reach out to your State Senator, Representative and Governor Holcomb. Yesterday afternoon, Governor Holcomb signed into law Executive Order 20-13 with very clear direction that physical therapists can provide telemedicine. This is not what we have consistently asked for since existing Statute has prohibited physical therapists from providing telemedicine. However, the language in yesterday’s Executive Order has overridden existing statute and we are cleared to move ahead with the provision of telemedicine. We are seeking clarification from the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency on how physical therapist assistants can utilize telemedicine.
We are currently adding resources to our COVID-19 page relating to telehealth/telemedicine. I want to give a huge thank you to the APTA Private Practice Section who has willingly shared all resources from FAQs on employment to telehealth. Our next step is to help you get up to speed on providing services. Here is a link to the current language giving you guidance on what Indiana deems to be telemedicine.
In addition, we will be contacting payers to understand who is covering telemedicine and who needs to be informed of the Governor’s Executive Order. We do know that Indiana Medicaid is covering physical therapy provided via telemedicine. To help us identify the different payers that you bill, please complete this short survey (deadline April 3).
The semantics of the terms telehealth and telemedicine, and how the Indiana Legislature views both, is not new to APTA Indiana. In 2019, telehealth was included as part of the FSBPT Model Practice Act language that we introduced as SB 586. When the Indiana Statehouse lawyers took our language to convert it to ‘bill’ language, they changed telehealth to telemedicine. When we caught this change, we alerted them of this issue, but we were told that Indiana only recognized telemedicine. The challenge at that point was the 2016 House Bill that clearly outlined who could provide telemedicine, and we were not on that list. Despite the help of APTA Legislative Services and multiple conversations, we were not able switch the term back to telehealth and had to make the difficult decision to drop telehealth from SB 586 and move on to obtain term protection, direct access and address dry needling, among other items. Obviously, at this time, this is all history, as we are now positioned to legally provide and get paid for services via telemedicine during this emergency period.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check our COVID-19 page for new resources as we will be adding them regularly.
Emily Slaven, PT, PhD, Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy
President, APTA Indiana