Is it spring yet? While the weather might be cold, things are starting to heat up on the legislative front. This issue of ImPACt is focused on a brief update on what is happening in Albany and with our profession’s legislative priorities. Read below to see what’s new and exciting!
Assembly Speaker Change
Since news of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s recent arrest by the FBI and subsequent charges of corruption, the long-time speaker has decided to step down from his current leadership role. Speaker Silver held the top post within the NY State Assembly for 21 years before heeding the call of fellow legislators (on both sides of the aisle) to resign from his role. The leadership change has been a major distraction in Albany and has slowed progress on the budget and other legislative matters. Mr. Silver is to be replaced by Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat elected to the Assembly in 2000, who currently serves as the Bronx County Democratic Chair. He has held the position of Chair of the Assembly’s Labor Committee for the past 2 years. It is unclear at this point how this change in leadership will impact the political dynamic in Albany including our bills related to physical therapy and other bills we are tracking. Speaker Heastie has maintained the current chairs of committees so it appears that for the remainder of the legislative session the Assembly’s approach on legislative and budgetary matters will remain relatively stable; however, the leadership change will undoubtedly impact the Assembly moving forward. Stay tuned!
Telehealth Bill Signed into Law by Governor Cuomo
New York became the 22nd state to pass legislation that requires coverage of telehealth visits at the same reimbursement of in-person visits. Physical therapy will be included in this measure, likely falling within the role of the home care therapists. The new law states that deductibles and co-insurance cannot differ from those for in-person visits. The new law is retroactive to January 1, 2015 but it is expected to take some time for insurance companies to update their policies and then for providers to develop a plan for implementation. This bill comes through in New York after the APTA adopted a 2014 motion within its House of Delegates to support telehealth physical therapist practice.
Early Intervention – Letter Sent to Federal Government
In collaboration with the New York Speech, Language, and Hearing Association and the New York State Occupational Therapy Association, a letter was sent to the U.S. Department of Education on February 10, 2015 regarding the current challenges within the EI system. While EI conditions have improved in New York on some fronts, there are still problems with ensuring access to all children. Since providing timely access to these children in need of early intervention services is a federal mandate, the letter requests a review of current practices in New York. The goal behind this is to ensure that New York is able to provide adequate and timely services to our children.
Testimony provided to State Assembly re: Workers’ Comp Fee Schedule Review.
The New York State Workers Compensation Board is continuing its fee schedule review process. NYPTA President, Mike Mattia, has submitted written testimony to a recent NY Assembly public hearing in Albany whose goal was to further examine the proposed workers’ compensation fee Schedule. Highlighted in this testimony were facts related to the need for a thorough fee schedule review, the inadequacies of current reimbursement rates, importance of physical therapy to injured workers, and relates changes in workers’ compensation system to newer innovative care models to reduce overall cost and improve care. The Workers’ Compensation Board will take the information provided into account as they continue their fee-schedule review.
NYPT PAC Golf Tournament
NYPT-PAC will be hosting the 2nd Annual Stay and Play golf outing following Delegate Assembly on Sunday May 3rd, 2015. This event was successful in 2014 and is expected to take off in 2015. Mark your calendars, count your Mulligans, and stay tuned for updates and registration information-- FOREEEE!!!!
Thank you for reading and staying abreast of issues impacting physical therapy in New York State.
Advisory Panel on Legislation Chair