COVID-19 Updates

CMS Announces Inclusion of OT and PT Practitioners as Medicare Telehealth Service Providers

We did it!

In response to COVID-19, Congress and the Administration took swift action to expand telehealth services. Although therapy CPT codes were added to the list of eligible telehealth services, CMS did not explicitly recognize therapists as eligible telehealth providers.

During this time, AOTA, APTA and ASHT continued to advocate for telehealth to be expanded in order to recognize therapists as eligible providers.

ASHT asked for your help to get across the finish line. Nearly 500 members took action on ASHT’s Legislative Action Center to urge CMS to add occupational and physical therapists as eligible Medicare telehealth providers.

WE DID IT!! Today CMS announced inclusion of occupational and physical therapy practitioners as Medicare telehealth service providers retroactive to March 1, 2020, for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

The professional impact of this announcement is immeasurable. During this unprecedented time, the ability for hand and upper extremity therapists to continue to work with patients has been critical. The ability to access our population remotely without risking exposure to the virus is profound. We couldn’t have done it without your advocacy.

We still have work to do to have telehealth permanence beyond the current public health emergency. But today, we have a victory and I couldn’t be prouder of us.

Thank you for your teamwork!!!

Mojca “Mo” Herman, MA, OTR/L, CHT
2019-2020 ASHT President

Responding to COVID-19: Advocating for Our Future

Dear ASHT Members,

As a nation, we are facing unprecedented times with the outbreak and rapid spread of COVID-19. To prevent further transmission of the highly contagious virus, measures are being put in place, including social distancing, and many states have ordered shelter-in-place mandates. Our lives are changing by the hour.

As healthcare providers, we are deeply impacted by these new social regulations. As hand therapists, we have close contact with individuals, but are being asked to physically distance ourselves to prevent the spread of the virus. It is an understatement to say it is a challenge to balance risk when providing patient care to those in need of our services, while simultaneously trying to protect ourselves, our own families and significant others.

Employers are responding with equal confusion. Some are taking extreme measures that include layoffs and restricted work environments, while others are continuing business as usual. How do we navigate this alarming time in our lives? What is the optimal response during this crisis?

ASHT members are looking to leadership for direction on best practices for patient and therapist safety during this pandemic. Members are concerned and seeking association guidance for rules to follow, regulations to bring back to their employers and procedures to implement for patient care. There is no single strategy that captures every unique working situation in which our members are engaged. But what our members do have is a voice through the experts.

The recommendation from the ASHT Board of Directors is to rely on the experts of virus management: the U.S. Department of State, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) who have released numerous guidelines and recommendations for healthcare professionals. National recommendations are being made to ensure safety of both patients and healthcare personnel. The most consistent message is to triage urgent care, while delaying elective and non-urgent visits.

State and local governments have also responded with directives, and have made resources available for your specific geographical region. Our partner organizations, AOTA and APTA, have also posted resources for members to review for patient care and practice management. It is paramount to stay informed, as the updates and recommendations are changing frequently.

I urge you to utilize one of your strongest assets as a therapist — advocacy — to navigate this unparalleled time with your employer. Be empowered to review the experts’ guidelines for healthcare workers/facilities by reading the information in the links included above. Immerse yourself in the available resources to learn what is best for your clinical/work situation. Utilize the information from the experts to confidently advocate for what you need in order to feel safe at work.

One hopeful glimmer in this tumultuous time is the rapid evolution of reliable telehealth opportunities for our field. The need to access patients remotely is imminent during this pandemic. Working with our legislative consultant, and in collaboration with AOTA and APTA, ASHT is actively engaged, now, in policy efforts to expand this possibility for occupational and physical therapists. Stay alert for updates from our Practice Division.

This is a crucial and defining moment in our lives and careers. We have always been profound advocates for our patients and practice management, but now we need to be vested to boldly self-advocate for our working future. There is no rule book to follow, but this is a foundational opportunity for personal and professional growth. Ignite the leader within, and be empowered to advocate for yourself, and, in turn, our patients and profession will benefit.

We are a team, and a family.                                                                                                                                              
We will get through this crisis together.

Mojca “Mo” Herman, MA, OTR/L, CHT 
2019-2020 ASHT President

Announcement Regarding ASHT's 43rd Annual Meeting

May 26, 2020 — After careful consideration of every extenuating COVID-19 pandemic factor affecting ASHT and its members, the Board of Directors is announcing today the in-person ASHT Annual Meeting, scheduled to take place October 1-4, 2020 in San Antonio, TX, has been canceled. ASHT instead will deliver a virtual conference.

This was not an easy decision, but ultimately the public health and safety of our attendees, exhibitors, speakers, staff and volunteers led us to conclude that canceling the face-to-face meeting was the safest and most responsible action. ASHT knows that many stakeholders are involved in making the ASHT Annual Meeting a “must attend” event each year and we want to thank everyone for their time and support.

While we look forward to reconvening the ASHT community face to face, the ASHT team is exercising its creativity and imagination to deliver a virtual meeting that will exceed your expectations!

The 2020 ASHT Virtual Annual Meeting will launch with an innovative format taking place over 10 weeks starting October 1 through December 3. The meeting sessions will be a blend of on-demand and live broadcast options creating a novel way to connect remotely with fellow attendees, speakers and exhibitors. The contemporary format will allow you to attend more sessions than you can in person!

We hope that spreading the program over the course of two months will make it easier for you to attend. We anticipate providing detailed information, including registration, for the ASHT 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting the first week of July.

Thank you for your patience, and more importantly for being a valuable member of our ASHT community. On behalf of the ASHT Board of Directors and the Annual Meeting Committee, we look forward to ‘meeting’ together virtually this fall.


Mojca “Mo” Herman, MA, OTR/L, CHT
2019-2020 ASHT President

Telehealth Resources

ASHT is providing the following list of resources to assist members with implementing telehealth services. Resources include webinars, FAQs, coding and billing guidelines and reimbursement information.

American Occupational Therapy Association

American Physical Therapy Association

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

American Medical Association

Professional Resources

Our partner organizations, AOTA and APTA, have posted resources for members to review for patient care and practice management. It is paramount to stay informed, as the updates and recommendations are changing frequently. 

- AOTA COVID-19 resource page 
- AOTA COVID-19 & OT: An Online CE Series (free to all live and recorded courses)
- AOTA OT Decision Guides for COVID-19
- APTA COVID-19 resource page 
- APTA Learning Center (free to all live and recorded courses)

Charitable Resources

If you'd like to donate directly to the charities helping COVID-19 relief, here are a few you might consider: 

- The American Red Cross is in desperate need of blood donations if you're in a position to do so 
- The World Health Organization is coordinating efforts across the world to respond to existing cases and prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading
- The CDC Foundation has launched a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising funds needed to bolster public response efforts to address the pandemic
Direct Relief is coordinating with public health authorities, nonprofit organizations and businesses in the U.S. and globally to provide PPE and essential medical items to health workers responding to COVID-19
- The United Way has established the COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to support communities affected by the pandemic. Donations from the fund will help the most vulnerable populations receive critical financial and social service support during this global crisis.