News & Important Items
- Updated Februrary 2021 – Recommended Scope of Practice for Federally Employed Physical Therapists View Here
- Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) interim final rule establishes national standards
The big picture: The Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed that health care professionals may provide services in a state other than the health care professional’s state of licensure. The official confirmation from the VA, long advocated by APTA, is likely to help reduce anxieties among health care professionals in the VA system who practice in states (or work with patients) outside the state in which they initially achieved a license to practice. Through the interim final rule, VA establishes a new regulation that confirms the ability of VA health care professionals to practice their health profession in other states, so long as they practice within their scope of practice and VA employment requirements. Providers in the system had raised concerns about state regulatory boards’ ability to allege unlicensed practice against them. The VA rule lays those fears to rest.
The aim of the rule, according to VA, is to ensure consistency in care throughout the system, whether provided in-person or via telehealth. This need for consistency is of particular importance during the VA’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has required the health care system to mobilize health care providers to meet beneficiaries’ needs — often across state lines.
Health care professionals in the VA system authorized under 38 U.S.C. 87306, 7401, 7405, 7406, 7408, or title five of the U.S. Code are covered by the rule. That coverage includes PTs and PTAs; it doesn’t apply to contractors working in VA medical facilities or in the community.
National Standards Vs. State Requirements
The rule also confirms VA’s authority to establish national standards of practice for health care professions by way of policy. Although the rule itself doesn’t establish national practice standards, it does give the VA the authority to set them within its system and establishes protections for VA health care professions personnel against state action as long as they follow the VA standards. The VA standards themselves will be developed through a subregulatory process.
Within the rule, VA notes that adherence to its practice standards must be maintained regardless of any state licensing laws or regulations that might conflict or “unduly burden practice.” When no conflict exists, VA expects its health care professionals to follow state requirements — for example to comply with a state’s continuing professional education rules, as long as they don’t get in the way of their employment with VA.See the APTA article here
- APTA sends letter to the OPM director to advocate for the revision of job classifications for PTs and PTAs Click here to view the letter
- Recommended Article: Physical Therapists Forward Deployed on Aircraft Carriers: A Retrospective Look at a Decade of Service View Here
- Connect with the Federal PT Section on:
- Department of VA releases final rule re: authority of VA health care providers to practice telehealth
- VA is establishing a new regulation that authorizes VA health care providers to treat beneficiaries through telehealth irrespective of the State, or of the location in a State, of the VA health care provider or the beneficiary. This rulemaking authorizes VA providers – including physical therapists – to offer telehealth services as an option for beneficiaries irrespective of the location of the health care provider or the beneficiary.
- 6 Things to Know About the Final Rule:
- This final rule clarifies that VA health care providers may exercise their authority to provide health care through the use of telehealth. VA is exercising Federal preemption of conflicting State laws relating to the practice of health care providers; laws, rules, regulations, or other requirements are preempted to the extent such State laws conflict with the ability of VA health care providers to engage in the practice of telehealth while acting within the scope of their VA employment, such as when the beneficiary and provider are physically located in different states during the episode of care.
- The rule does NOT expand VA health care providers’ authority beyond what is required or authorized by Federal law and regulations or as defined in the laws and practice acts of the health care provider’s State of licensure.
- It is effective 30 days after date of publication in federal register (Effective date will likely be around June 12/13 or so).
- The rule does NOT apply to community health care providers furnishing care for VA, including providers who participate in CHOICE program. The rule only applies to providers appointed by the VA and cannot be a VA-contracted health care provider. VA health care providers are protected by this final rule from any actions by individual States or State licensing boards to enforce a State law, rule, regulation or requirement while VA health care providers are practicing telehealth within the scope of their VA employment.
- Regarding copays: VA notes in the rule that “Congress has authorized the Secretary to “waive the imposition or collection of copayments for telehealth and telemedicine visits of veterans under the laws administered by the Secretary.” See 38 U.S.C. 1722B.” Also, under 38 CFR 17.108(e)(16), in-home video telehealth care is not subject to the collection of copayments.
- Final rule is available here
- FPTS Supports Physical Therapy Licensure CompactDownload Here
- Services/Affiliations Management
- Members of the Federal Section are employed by multiple federal agencies and military services – each with their own unique need for resources. We want to provide our members with tailored resources and information but first we need to know the primary affiliation for each member.
- Click here to manage your service affiliations
- Special Interest Groups Management
- Join the Amputation Care Special Interest Group
- Click here to manage your SIG memberships
- U.S. Air Force Military Treatment Facilities to establish direct access physical therapy clinics for active-duty members
- VA expands alternative pain therapies as part of Opioid Safety Initiative
- APTA provides Statement for the record to House Veterans Affairs Committee on “Overcoming Barriers to More Efficient and Effective VA Staffing”.