Recent Legislation Includes Limited Locum Tenens Provision for Physical Therapists

19 Dec 2016

The 21st Century Cures Act, which was passed by the House and Senate earlier this month and signed into law by President Obama on December 13th, includes a provision which will allow physical therapists to enter into locum tenens arrangements and bring in another licensed physical therapist to treat Medicare patients and bill through the practice provider number during temporary absences (e.g. illness, pregnancy, vacation) in order to avoid interruptions in care.  At this time, however, only PTs in non-metropolitan Statistical Areas (MRAs), Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs), and Health Professions Shortage Areas (HPSAs) would qualify for the program.

The Health Resources & Services Administration Data Warehouse has a search function which can help therapists determine whether or not they are located in a Medically Underserved Area.  The HRSA’s website also provides information regarding the definition of “rural” as well as a link to a list of the MRAs currently delineated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

While this may not be the large-scale victory that therapists had hoped for, it is at least a positive step in the process which will hopefully be expanded to all practices in the future, regardless of location.  More information will be forthcoming from CMS as to the specific terms of these locum tenens arrangements.