COVID-19 Update: Impact of CMS Waivers on AOPA Members


On March 13, 2020, President Trump issued an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act to help address issues being caused by the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  As part of this declaration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) put in place certain blanket waivers to help Medicare beneficiaries impacted receive prompt care.

The two issues of importance to American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) members are the proposed relaxation of existing requirements for telehealth visits and the relaxation of the referring practitioner documentation requirements for replacement of orthoses and prostheses. 

AOPA has been in contact with the DME MACs to discuss actions that they will take to implement the provisions of these emergency-based waivers. While they are awaiting specific guidance from CMS on how to properly implement, they have indicated that CMS intends to make every effort to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries continue to have complete access to clinically appropriate medical care. In the meantime, AOPA members should continue to make every effort to obtain appropriate documentation to support the O&P services they provide.

CMS has issued the following guidance regarding replacement of DMEPOS during the state of emergency: “Where Durable Medical Equipment Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) is lost, destroyed, irreparably damaged, or otherwise rendered unusable or unavailable, contractors have the flexibility to waive replacements requirements such that the face-to-face requirement, a new physician’s order, and new medical necessity documentation.”

When providing a replacement item under this waiver, suppliers are reminded to include a narrative description explaining why the item needs to be replaced with their claims and must maintain documentation for the need of the replacement item. Suppliers must also use the CR modifier on their claims. CMS has also declared that the documentation waiver is retroactive to dates of service on or after March 1, 2020. Find more information on the waiver here.

For more information on telehealth, read Medicare’s Telemedicine Fact Sheet and the companion Medicaid piece.

AOPA remains committed to making sure its members can continue to provide clinically appropriate, medically necessary care with minimal interruption as a result of COVID-19.  To this end, AOPA will continue to provide additional information and resources as they become available.

Questions? Contact Joe McTernan at jmcternan@AOPAnet.org or Devon Bernard at dbernard@AOPAnet.org.