Health care providers are expected to get a waiver from the Obama administration to continue charging for outpatient physical therapies, even as they warn of an epidemic of suicides, substance abuse and other mental health disorders among patients.
The Department of Health and Human Services said Monday that it was giving the waiver authority to the American Association of Health Plans and Associations to “allow states to continue to offer services without charge to individuals seeking services from providers that are licensed and certified by the U.P.A.P.”
The waiver will allow providers to continue offering services without charging patients, who can now seek help with their mental health conditions at a state-operated facility, said Beth B. DeMello, a senior adviser to the AAP.
She said the waiver would not apply to services that were provided at home or through community groups.
The AAP has asked the federal government to allow states to resume charging for the outpatient physical therapist services it previously stopped offering, citing the growing suicide rate among people who have mental health problems.
The agency has also asked that the AATPA and other state health plans provide mental health and substance abuse services free of charge to patients.
A federal appeals court has ruled against the AATS and other states, but the administration is considering an appeal.
The administration has faced intense criticism from patients and mental health advocates for halting some outpatient mental health care services, saying the move would force them to spend tens of thousands of dollars on services that are no longer needed.
Last week, a federal judge in Florida blocked the administration’s request to resume the outpatient mental healthcare services, ruling the administration had no legal authority to change state law.
The appeals court said the administration failed to prove that it had the authority to alter state law without a court order.
The Obama administration has repeatedly said it has no intention of abandoning the use of the mental health treatment services.
In recent weeks, administration officials have said they believe there is no need to stop offering outpatient mental services, even though they say the government should do so because the UP.
P.’s cost is spiraling.