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Alabama Telehealth 

Medicaid

Temporarily Allowing Speech and Occupational Therapy Services Through Telemedicine during COVID-19 Emergency – 3/27/20202

COVID-19 Emergency Expiration Date Extended to December 31, 2020 – 11/3/2020

General Telehealth Law

Alabama does not currently have a general telehealth law.

Physical Therapy

ABPT COVID-19 STATEMENT TO PRACTIONERS

The Alabama Board of Physical Therapy would like to take this opportunity to answer the many inquiries we have had in relation to telehealth and the unprecedented challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. We would like to answer a few common questions we are getting:

Can physical therapy telehealth services be provided in the state of Alabama?

Yes. While our current practice act does not explicitly address telehealth, it also does not limit its use for therapy either. All ethical and scope of practice guidelines apply to telehealth practice the same as face to face practice.

Can physical therapy providers licensed in Alabama provide telehealth services to clients in other states without a license in that state?

No. The physical therapy provider must be licensed in the physical location of the client unless a state has a specific exemption specified.

Are telehealth services reimbursed by insurance?

The Board does not involve itself with issues of reimbursement. We encourage you to call your insurance providers and request that telehealth services be covered in the face of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

In 2015, the Federation of State Board of Physical Therapy issued a paper on the minimum best practices for telehealth(attached). The Board recommends this as a guidance for our Practioners who are now being asked to provide telehealth to clients. Your company may require a higher standard, but these are intended to provide the minimum accepted standards as you go forward.

Are there restrictions for seeing our patients?

The Alabama Board of Physical Therapy is a professional licensing board and does not have the authority to mandate or recommend the closure of a practice setting; this authority lies with the Governor in coordination with State and County health officials.

The Alabama Board of Physical Therapy recommends all Practioners follow the guidance provided by the CDC’s guidelines at: CDC.gov Coronavirus

In the weeks ahead as we navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, we encourage all Practioners to rely upon your education and training while we all work through this situation.

Reference 

http://pt.alabama.gov/

Occupational Therapy

The Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy would like to take this opportunity to answer the many inquiries we have had in relation to telehealth and the unprecedented challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. We would like to answer a few common questions we are getting:

Can occupational therapy telehealth services be provided in the state of Alabama?

Yes. While our current practice act does not explicitly address telehealth, it also does not limit its use for therapy either. All ethical and scope of practice guidelines apply to telehealth practice the same as face to face practice.

Can occupational therapy providers licensed in Alabama provide telehealth services to clients in other states without a license in that state?

Under normal circumstances, the provider must be licensed in the physical location of the patient unless a state has a specific exemption specified. Contact the state of location of the patient to determine if licensure has been waived at this time.

Are telehealth services reimbursed by insurance?

The Board does not involve itself with issues of reimbursement. We encourage you to call your insurance providers and request that telehealth services be covered in the face of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Reference

http://www.ot.alabama.gov/news_detail.aspx?ID=13773

Speech Therapy

ABESPA’s current provisions permit speech and/or hearing services via telepractice for Alabama licensees or those working in an exempt setting. The Board is currently developing more guidance for practice via telepractice. However, for now, protocols for telepractice are no different than those for “in-person” practice. Alabama licensees or those working in an exempt setting are expected to follow the same protocols and rules as outlined in ABESPA Rules and Regulations and its governing Code of Alabama provisions. Specifically, your attention is directed to the following ABESPA Rules and Regulations:

  • SLP Scope of Practice -Section 870-X-7; and,
  • Code of Ethics -Section 870-X-6.

Supervision Through Telesupervision

First, Alabama SLP’s and AUD’s who supervise Clinical Fellows (CF) and Fourth-Year Intern may provide telesupervison. Telesupervision was reinforced by the emergency rule that was passed by ABESPA on Friday, April 10, 2020 and renewed by the Board on August 14, 2020.

Second, supervising SLP’s and AUD’s should follow the established protocols for supervision. ABESPA Rules and Regulations Section 870-X-2.05(7)(c) provides that supervision must include six (6) hours of direct supervision within each segment period. Direct supervision envisions direct interaction with the CF and not just reviewing of notes or records, which is “indirect supervision.”

Finally, the ABESPA Rules and Regulations do not state a specific method or manner of “direct supervision.” There is nothing preventing the direct supervisory review from being conducted via telepractice, video conferencing, telephone or any other electronic means that will provide meaningful review, mentoring, and monitoring that can be properly documented. Additionally, the Rules provide, “these requirements are not intended to supplant or supersede supervisory requirements of appropriate accrediting or certifying entities or academic programs.”

Per the Emergency Rule passed on April 10, 2020 and renewed by the Board on August 14, 2020, Assistant Supervision can be conducted using telesupervision is permitted for assistants during the COVID-19 crisis.

Out-of-State SLPs and Audiologists

An out-of-state Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) or Audiologist (AUD) can provide services in Alabama without obtaining an Alabama license pursuant to the 30-Day Exemption Practice Rule. This Rule permits an out-of-state SLP or AUD to provide services in Alabama for a period of 30 days, if the out-of-state SLP or AUD works with a licensed Alabama SLP or AUD. Notification to ABESPA is required utilizing the 30-Day Exemption Practice form. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the 30-Day exemption can be extended at the discretion of ABESPA by utilizing the 30-Day Exemption Practice Extension form.

Reference

http://abespa.alabama.gov/COVID19.aspx

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