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2017 Legislative Session Overview

Please visit each legislative page for specifics on topics addressed.


NYSOTA Advocacy Day

NYSOTA’s 2017 Advocacy Day was March 7nd. We had over 250 people in attendance.

Telehealth Parity for Occupational and Physical Therapy

A.7488 by Assembly member Gottfried, and S.5733 by Senator Young, passed the Assembly and the Senate and was signed by the Governor on November 20, 2015. This legislation amends section 2999-cc of the Public Health Law, to include occupational and physical therapists within the definition of telehealth providers. The law requires insurance and Medicaid plans that cover services to also cover those services when they are provided through telehealth methods.OTD Degree

The proposal to add an Occupational Therapy Doctorates degree to the Rules of the Regents
regarding recognized degrees in New York was approved by the Board of Regents in September 2015. Occupational therapy programs in New York may now apply for approval to develop  

Early Intervention DOH said that their proposal is intended to conform to an option in federal which allows 1 person who is licensed in 2 or more professions to evaluate all 5 domains. While they acknowledge that dually licensed professionals are very rare in NYS, their proposal is far reaching. It allows 1 individual to evaluate all 5 domains without any reference or limitation to dually licensed individuals (Page 25, lines 26-31).  It also eliminates a child’s entitlement to a multidisciplinary evaluation (page 26, line 31).

Children with a Diagnosed Physical or Mental Condition

This year the Article VII Health bill by the executive proposes major changes to the evaluation process in the early intervention program. The proposal removes language that assures that children receive multidisciplinary evaluations, allows one individual to evaluate all 5 domains, and allows “abbreviated evaluations” for children with a diagnosis that indicates a qualification for EI services, even though such an abbreviated evaluation may lead to an improper IFSP that misses other treatment needs. Such vague statutory language regarding evaluations will also allow localities to use non-licensed personnel to perform medical record reviews, screens and evaluations that lead to improper IFSPs.

The 2016 executive budget offers a 1% increase in provider payment rates. NYSOTA will advocate for more.

In 2015 a coaltion of early intervention professions and providers, that included NYSOTA, requested an amendment in the state budget that would have provided a 4.8% increase in EI rates. Though that request was supported by the chair of the Assembly Health committee, it did not  make it onto the Assembly budget proposal.The coalition also advocated for A.7554 by Assembly member Jaffee and S5497 by Senator Serino, legislation that  directed the commissioner of health to collect and report data on the early intervention program to the legislature annually, for the purposes of improving the efficiency, cost, effectiveness and quality of the EI program. That legislation passed both the Assembly and the Senate but was vetoed by the Governor.

In 2011 and 2012 the state budget cut early intervention rates paid to therapy providers by 15%.In 2013 the Department of Health’s Bureau of Early Intervention relieved the counties of the burden of managing payments to the EI program by setting-up a new statewide payment system, a state fiscal agent, that started April 1, 2013. EI providers, including OT, now get paid through the state fiscal agent. The source of funding for the payment could be Medicaid, commercial insurance, or, if the child has no insurance an escrow account that the counties pay into. Since then providers have been experiencing long delays in payments for services, especially from commercial insurance plans and greater administrative burdens regarding documentation, processing and tracking insurance claims.

NYSOTA is looking for more reports regarding children not getting proper classification through the IFSP process for services needed, or cases of children not getting OT services because of shortages of therapists.


OTA Licensing Update

OTAs Officially Licensed as of May 18th!

Our congratulations to all occupational therapy assistants who have been registered with the New York State Education Department and authorized to practice. You are now officially a licensed professional in New York!

After nearly 14 years of working on state legislation to license the OTA, NYSOTA was finally successful. For many years OTAs were denied full licensing in New York because of their Associates degree level education.

Governor Cuomo signed the OTA License bill, S1567A, by Senator LaValle, on 11/20/15, now Chapter 470 of the laws of 2015. The enactment clause in the bill however delayed the official date the law went into effect for 180 days.

NYSOTA also must thank Assembly member Gunther for fighting so hard to get this legislation passed.

The purpose of such a delayed enactment is to allow the executive branch, in this case the state education department, the time to put into place any necessary regulations that are necessary to carry out the new law. And indeed, there will be a few small technical amendments to the commissioner's regulations.

The new law will not require any changes in the need to renew registration with the State Education Department.

There are no changes in fees for occupational therapy assistants.

There are no changes in the scope of practice of occupational therapy assistants. Their scope of practice is set forth in commissioner's regulations.

There are no changes in supervision regulations.

There are no changes in continuing competency requirements.

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