Updates

Thursday February 15, 2024

  • The wheels of bureaucracy move much too slowly, and we do know many of you are waiting to hear about the outcomes of our efforts. 

    We are currently in a mix of different considerations, all coming together effectively to hopefully get this situation resolved sooner, but we do have to wait while lawyers on both sides wrangle with what is happening. 

    At the same time, some of our partners, are working non-legal routes to discuss options with benefit holders (employers, unions, etc.)  We continue to engage with government who we know are keeping a close watch. 

    Our partnership with the Canadian Physiotherapy Association is strong, and while we are working the back channels (and front channels) in British Columbia, they are extremely supportive of the work we’re doing and what is happening on the federal level.

    The biggest challenge right now, is that this work is sometimes slow to move.  Lawyers and corporations are involved, and things are not always quickly resolved when situations like this are ongoing.

    We know this isn’t what anyone wants to hear, especially when PTAs and kins are losing jobs and physiotherapists are having to take on extra patients or worrying about how you chart. 

    I wish we had a magic wand and could speed up the processes and things that need to fall into place to provide definitive answers.  But we don’t want to advise you and then discover we’re wrong.

Thursday January 11, 2024

  • We have heard from some levels of government over the past few weeks, letting us know they are aware of the situation and will be keeping an eye on it. Our first goal was to inform about what is happening, particularly when we hear that additional clinics are considering laying off PTSWs, and to make sure they are aware that our already strapped healthcare system is facing increased wait times, less access and reduced services surrounding physiotherapy.  Ensuring appropriate health care is available when and where patients need it, is a key priority of government, so raising their awareness is important.
  • We have been in touch with some of the larger national corporations who administer PBC benefits, and are hopeful that some additional pressure and statements from them may lead to increased visibility of the issue and force a meeting all the sooner.
  • Along with CPA, we are requesting a meeting with PBC to try to come to an agreed upon solution that we can share with physiotherapists which would clearly define what is permitted and what is not, and provide specific instructions (as needed) about what they do and do not want charted, etc.
  • We’ll be joining tomorrow’s Clinic Accelerator webinar to provide as much information and updates as we can and we are also in the planning stages for a PABC townhall to update members, which should occur in the next few weeks as more ‘post-holiday’ information comes to light.

Wednesday December 20, 2023

As much of the world winds down for the holiday break, we wanted to take a moment to reach out to all of the physiotherapists, PTs, kinesiologists, front desk staff and others who work within physiotherapy clinics.

Please know that, while we are not nearly as impacted as all of you by the recent upheaval to physiotherapy services, we very acutely feel your fear, frustration, disappointment and worry.

PABC and CPA are continuing to work towards a solution, and we will continue to work behind the scenes throughout the holidays to navigate and resolve the challenges the profession is facing. 

We look forward to providing you with new updates and information early in the New Year. 

In the meantime, we hope you all have time for a break, some time to breathe, and opportunity to spend time with your family. 

We are honoured and grateful to work on behalf of our members and to continue to advocate for your interests every day.

Thank you for sharing your stories with us and helping us develop a fast, savvy advocacy campaign.

Happy Holidays from the PABC Staff and Board

Tuesday December 19, 2023

  • We are hoping to have legal opinions on some of the definitions laid out by PBC early in the new year and that will help us immensely in determining what the go forward approach will be.
  • PABC and CPA are writing to PBC over the holidays to request a meeting where we can sit down together and negotiate a reasonable solution to the challenges that the profession is facing.
  • Some large corporate supporters of physiotherapy have indicated their interest in coming on board with our advocacy work, and supporting the need for clear definition and information that is provided to all.
  • We know that many patients have received direct bills from PBC, and this is extremely concerning to us and is not a positive reflection on the profession.  If you know of someone in this situation, please ensure they fill out the survey for patients on this site, and we encourage them to speak to a lawyer prior to paying any invoice for previously approved work.
  • Please do not contact the BCFSA about this matter as they do not have the jurisdiction to respond,

Thursday December 14, 2023

  • The British Columbia Association of Kinesiologists has released some guidance for their members that they have generously allowed us to share. You can read the document here.

Wednesday December 13, 2023

  • We have heard from a number of media outlets and are following up on those leads.  Whenever possible, if there has been media attention we will provide a link after the fact so it can be viewed.  This is ongoing, as in order for the media to invest in this story, the facts need to be clear, and at the moment, there is still a lot of uncertainty around the information PBC has provided.
  • While the PBC letter to patients last week seemed promising, the FAQs to providers reiterated similar themes to the original PBC release.  As such, we recommend taking a cautious approach about offering services that PBC has indicated are not acceptable in any of its recent transmissions. 

Monday December 11, 2023

Friday December 8, 2023

It’s FRIDAY! :blush:
  • If you know RMTs or Chiropractors who are also concerned about the direction this change is heading, and what it might lead to for their own practice, please feel welcome to direct them to the “Allies in Advocacy” page on www.physioadvocate.com We are all concerned about this ‘overreach’ as one of our colleagues calls it, and want to address it before more British Columbians see a reduction in their benefits.
  • We have a new poster that you can print and post in your clinic that has a QR code which will take patients directly to the patient form on www.physioadvocate.com. We’re hoping that patients who are impacted will find this to be an easy way to submit how the situation is impacting them, their health, and potentially even their work life if they use physiotherapy to prevent ongoing or recurring injuries.
  • Please encourage your staff, patients and anyone else who has been impacted to use the forms on the site. The more we know about what is going on and how this is affecting the health of British Columbians, the better positioned we are to speak to this policy change.
  • We are waiting for PBC to issue an updated policy, which they have noted will happen at the end of this week, beginning of next. We are told it will not contain any changes to the policy, but will clarify the policies and then the definitions.

Thursday December 7, 2023

PABC would like to thank every single person who has offered assistance, brought forward questions and spread the word about the situation we are all facing with PBC.

Please keep it coming.

We certainly appreciate when you ask us to keep you posted on everything that is going on, but this is a constantly moving and changing situation.

As such, we will be providing updates in this space, particularly as we gather more of your feedback.

Today:

  • We are actively working to connect with PBC to get detailed answers to your questions. They also tell us that a new statement will be out imminently (late this week, early next). It most likely will clarify, but may not change the intent of the previous statement.
  • Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC (NNPBC) are issuing an update to their members who may not have heard about changes to their benefits package, recommending they contact their employer and/or union.
  • We are setting up additional or ongoing meetings with the BC Chiropractors Association (Dec. 8), the Registered Massage Therapy Association of BC (Dec. 6), the BC Association of Kinesiologists (daily), Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC (ongoing), Doctors of BC (Dec 11), the BC Nurses Union (Dec. 10) and always the Canadian Physiotherapy Association with who we are in continuous contact with.
  • We have touched base with a number of unions whose employees are impacted by these changes and they are investigating to determine if these changes meet the criteria in their contracts.
  • We are in the beginning stages of planning a town hall or information session and will announce that as soon as plans are in place.
  • Please remember to send your patients to www.physioadvocate.com and have them fill out the impact forms – the more we know, the more we can do!

Monday December 4, 2023

We recently became aware of increased audits of physiotherapy clinics and physiotherapists by Pacific Blue Cross (PBC).

In some cases, these audits have led to demands for repayment of substantial fees previously approved by PBC, even for those who are confident they followed all guidelines appropriately.

On November 27th, PBC released an update which -confirms that eligible physiotherapy coverage is:

● ONLY for rehabilitation of an existing medical condition (illness or injury)
● NOT intended for preventative, permanent or ongoing treatment.
● NOT intended for weight loss treatment, to provide an exercise program, or personal training.

Most importantly, PBC defines a physiotherapy visit eligible for reimbursement as one-on-one treatment between the registered physical therapist and the patient.

Any services rendered by other practitioners, such as a physical therapist support worker (PTSW), kinesiologist, personal trainer, or a yoga or pilates instructor during the visit, are not considered eligible expenses for reimbursement, even if conducted under the direction or supervision of a registered physical therapist.

PABC is cautioning all physiotherapists and clinics to review your current PBC billing practices to ensure compliance with the conditions set forth in the November 27th update. This includes ending the use of PTSWs, kinesiologists, personal trainers, yoga or pilates instructors as part of your billing for physiotherapy sessions.

Of course, you may choose to continue to offer these services to patients, but these will not be eligible for coverage by PBC as part of your physiotherapy session billing.

If you wish to continue business as usual, you must bill clients directly for these services and let them know they should not submit invoices directly to PBC or risk receiving an invoice.

We are disappointed with this direction from PBC, and recognize that this will be disruptive for everyone as many clinics will have to realign their business practices and operations. Please know that we are working closely with the BC Association of Kinesiologists, our legal team, and others to develop an advocacy strategy to fight this decision.

We will provide frequent updates on the situation.

For the immediate future, PABC recommends all members carefully review the November 27th update and revise your processes and structure accordingly.

Please carefully review the PBC Update from Monday, November 27th.