AAPM&R is Calling for a Comprehensive National Plan to Address the Needs of Millions Suffering from Long COVID

According to two recent publications from the Journal of the American Medical Association, ten to thirty percent of individuals who had COVID-19 reported at least one persistent symptom up to six months after the virus left their bodies. That means 3 to 10 million Americans are experiencing symptoms of Long COVID or Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), which are varied and ongoing, including neurological challenges, cognitive problems such as brain fog, shortness of breath, fatigue, pain, and mobility issues.

AAPM&R called on President Joe Biden and Congress to gear up for the next coronavirus crisis by preparing and implementing a comprehensive national plan focused on meeting the needs of millions of individuals suffering from the long-term symptoms of COVID-19, and help them regain quality of life and return to being active members of their communities. The plan must include a commitment to three major components:

  • Resources to build necessary infrastructure to meet this crisis
  • Equitable access to care for patients
  • Research to advance medical understanding of Long COVID

PM&R physicians are uniquely qualified to help guide the multidisciplinary effort needed to develop a plan for this crisis. As a specialty, physiatrists are investigators, team leaders and problem solvers. PM&R physicians see the whole patient AND the whole picture of the rehabilitation ecosystem. Physiatrists are exactly what this crisis needs. Learn more about our Multidisciplinary PASC Collaborative, launched in March 2021, which is working on quality improvement initiatives.

AAPM&R Advocacy, Healthcare Collaborations and Partnerships, and Customized Resources to Support PM&R During This Crisis

AAPM&R is working to ensure PM&R is part of the national conversation about healthcare amidst COVID-19 and advocating for the federal support, legislation, regulation relief and resources that physiatrists need now. One way we are doing this is through our partnerships and collaborations with other specialty societies. The Academy continuously works to represent PM&R through these collaborations, and it is through these partnerships that we are able to discuss and share a variety of resources with you that you critically need.

Stay Up-to-Date

AAPM&R Advocates for Scope of Practice, Telephone Payment, and Care Planning in Letter to CMS

Jul 14, 2020

In a July 1 letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), AAPM&R submitted comments regarding the additional policy and regulatory revisions in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). 

In our letter, we advocated for:

  • Scope of Practice—we asked CMS to reinstate physician supervision requirements after the PHE. AAPM&R asserts that physiatrists and qualified rehabilitation physicians should be maintained as the leaders of patient care in IRFs to ensure appropriate recovery of these complex patients.
  • Care Planning for Medicare Home Health Services—with the volume of patients needing adequate home health services following discharge after being treated for COVID-19, there is a more significant need in this space during the PHE which justifies using non-physician providers (NPPs) in this role. However, as we return to the provision of pre-PHE patient care, AAPM&R strongly disagrees with the proposal that these regulations become permanent. We recommend that physician certification of home health services remain the care standard. AAPM&R asserts that care planning for home health services requires specialty training which NPPs do not have.
  • Payment for Audio-Only Telephone Evaluation and Management Services—as we noted in our comments to the first PHE interim final rule, the ways in which physicians are being asked to provide telephone services during the COVID-19 pandemic do not coincide with the original intention of the telephone codes, nor do they coincide with the way those codes were valued by the RUC. Increasing payment for these services helps to ensure that patients continue to receive high-quality care despite barriers that may prevent use of audio-visual technology.

We will notify you of any updates as we receive them. Read our previous letters to CMS regarding COVID-19 aid.