Letter from the Editor: As We Return, Tenacity is Key
By Gayla Oakley, RN, CCRP, MAACVPRRN, CCRP, MAACVPR
Tenacity: persistence, determination, perseverance. Along with many other characteristics of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, these, rise to the top during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we review the last six months, we see tenacity at work. CR/PR programs that have gone “above and beyond” to keep in contact with the patients providing continued care via phone calls, mail and other innovative methods, regardless of reimbursement. The leadership of AACVPR and joint affiliates has worked with determination to provide CMS with information on the importance and benefits of providing CR/PR at home with the need for reimbursement. This same leadership are providing guidelines and answering questions for programs that are gradually opening their doors to new challenges. Who would have guessed that we would need to measure distance between equipment and greet patients with masks on?
We don’t know what the future will bring but whatever it is, will be met with perseverance. What will our program structure look like? Will a hybrid program be the “new normal”? We know that the access to programs pre-COVID was low, but now with sheltering at home, the financial burden of our hospitals and the furlough of staff, the access is even lower. The AACVPR leadership will continue to collaborate with other cardiac and pulmonary organizations, dialog with CMS to provide reimbursement for telehealth codes and lobbying to add COVID diagnoses providing eligibility for PR. We are seeing more private payers individually step up and have reports of some plans accepting some COVID diagnoses, waiving co-payments and deductibles. You may want to call any private payer and ask if CR or PR is covered post-COVID and/or if any fees are waived.
Other challenges will arise. Rest assured it will be met with tenacity because it is who we are and what we do!