Advocacy Resources

TNOTA believes that advocacy is critical to maintaining the health and visibility of occupational therapy in Tennessee. Membership in TNOTA supports our efforts to represent occupational therapy in legislative and regulatory affairs and gives a powerful, united voice to occupational therapy practitioners across our state. TNOTA is always working to develop more publicly available resources to enable OT practitioners, educators, and students to better advocate for our profession. If you have a resource you'd like to see, contact [email protected]

 

Telehealth Update

Updated March 11, 2021

 

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of TNOTA and our capable legislative sponsors, SB1072/HB1275 by Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, and Rep. Tom Leatherwood, R-Arlington, passed out of both Health committees the week of 3/8/21 with unanimous support. The bill will now head to the respective calendaring committees before being heard of on the floor of both chambers. TNOTA does not anticipate opposition to this bill in the Senate or House.

This legislation updates OT practice settings to include telehealth. If passed, this bill would extend OT practitioners' ability to use telehealth as a service delivery model permanently. If passed, this legislation would eliminate a barrier found within the telehealth bill passed in the August 2020 special legislative session (HB8002/SB8003)-- namely, that OTPs' ability to practice telehealth would end when that bill sunsets in 2022. If this bill passes, OT practitioners would be able to permanently practice telehealth as part of our practice act, though payment parity with in person services is not guaranteed beyond 2022. 

SB1072/HB1275 also acknowledges that OTs may provide a treatment diagnosis to patients, and it allows OTs to perform dry needling of the upper limb, defined as the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder girdle.

Once passed, the Board of Occupational Therapy will promulgate appropriate educational requirements to designate these new authorities.  

TNOTA would like to extend our sincerest thanks to our bill sponsors, Senator Bo Watson and Representative Tom Leatherwood, as well as our amazing lobbyists at Capitol & 5th Public Strategies.

TNOTA will keep its members apprised of any movement on the house and senate floors. 

Of note, TNOTA saw unprecedented grassroots advocacy effort surrounding this bill. Several senators and representatives relayed the fact that they heard from OT practitioners in support of this bill-- they heard our message loud and clear. Advocacy works!

On behalf of TNOTA, thank you for your advocacy to help ensure this crucial bill passes!

Sincerely,

Dr. Cindy DeRuiter Blackwell, OTD, OTR/L

TNOTA President

 

Medicaid Block Grant Information

Updated March 20, 2021

After more than a year of discussions and negotiations with the federal government, Tennessee’s Medicaid “Block Grant” waiver amendment received approval in January by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Tennessee is the first state in the nation to be granted approval for this type of block grant arrangement, which will result in an alternative financing arrangement for its Medicaid program and provide additional flexibilities relative to its administration. While the Biden administration may choose to review approval of this Block Grant and ultimately make changes, that remains to be seen. In the interim, TNOTA's advocacy team is providing resources to help practitioners and consumers understand the changes that this Block Grant structure would bring. 

Block Grant announcement from the state of Tennessee

From the Kaiser Family Foundation: Tennessee & Other Medicaid 1115 Waiver Activity: Implications for the Biden Administration

From the Sycamore Institute: TennCare III: Unpacking Tennessee’s New Medicaid “Block Grant”

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: The Problems with Block-Granting Entitlement Programs

 

TNOTA will continue to monitor the status of this Block Grant and post regular updates as they become available. 

 

 

 

Telehealth Insurance Coverage 

 With the passage of the Tennessee telepractice bill, most healthcare providers' telehealth services are required under the new law to be covered similarly to in-person services. However, due to some of the bill's language, this is not guaranteed for occupational therapy practitioners at this time. TNOTA is working with our lobbyists and others to help rectify this language difference in order to ensure payment parity for our telehealth services. Watch this space for updates as the situation evolves. 

 

While some insurance providers are covering OT services via telehealth, this varies based on provider rules. TNOTA's advocacy team has compiled a current list of telehealth coverage in Tennessee, updated 1/19/2021. This document includes link to contact insurance providers who have not yet covered telehealth services. This list will be updated as changes are made. 

 

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Tennessee announced on May 13 that they will now cover telehealth, including OT, permanently!

 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the long awaited news on April 30th that occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech language pathologists can now perform telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries.

Read more on AOTA's website. 

 

Telehealth data tracking form 

TNOTA is collecting telehealth stories so that we can support our advocacy with data. TNOTA has partnered with other state OT associations to gather data on telehealth outcomes. Download the data tracking form and patient survey created by members of the Arizona Occupational Therapy Association (ArizOTA) to share your experience with telehealth! 

We will be collecting this data through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. E-mail completed data sheets to [email protected] (subject line "telehealth data tracker").

 

Telehealth Data Tracker

 

 

TNOTA's Lobbyists: Working for you!

TNOTA employs a lobbying firm that closely monitors legislation and executive orders from our Tennessee government.

Read the latest update from Capitol & 5th Public Strategies.

 

  

Find your legislators

To better inform yourself on issues that affect the provision of OT services in Tennessee, find your legislators and see where they stand on issues that impact our profession.

 

Other Templates

 Letter of Medical Necessity