Fight for Telehealth

Ask Governor Doug Ducey for an Executive Order that would allow OTs and OTAs to practice telehealth during the COVID-19 emergency

Instructions for Using ArizOTA's letter template to contact Governor Ducey

  1. Select and copy the entire text in the box below.
  2. Click on one of the buttons below the letter to send via email OR the Governor’s contact form.
  3. Paste the text into the email body or into the contact form “Comments” section.
  4. Make any changes you desire and replace the signature line details in red with your name and information.
  5. If sending via email, fill in the subject line. For example, “Please Authorize OT for Telehealth Now”
  6. If sending via the Governor’s contact form, complete the other required form fields. Be sure to select “I require assistance” at the top of the form.
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Dear Governor Ducey,

We write this letter asking that you issue an executive order stating that occupational therapy is an authorized telehealth provider during the COVID-19 pandemic, retroactive to the date of the public health emergency declaration. Governors of other states, such as Connecticut(1), Massachusetts(2), and Illinois(3) have issued executive orders authorizing telehealth services for occupational therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Arizona will benefit from a similar order.

In January 2020, Arizona House Bill 2536 was introduced, expanding the definition of authorized telehealth providers to occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. The bill remains in the Senate and occupational therapy providers are not authorized to deliver services using telehealth in Arizona as of the date of this letter.

We would like to thank you for issuing Executive Order 2020-12 “Prohibiting the Closure of Essential Services,” dated March 23, 2020, identifying occupational therapy as an essential business service.  The Executive Order ensures that Arizona residents will continue to have access to critical rehabilitation and habilitation services. However, many of our clients are vulnerable to viruses and other airborne illnesses. Generally, delivering in-person services is essential to our clients’ health and wellbeing; however, during the pandemic, we risk exposing them to COVID-19 when we provide in-person services or our clients attend sessions in a healthcare facility. Telehealth is already a service delivery model that falls within the scope of occupational therapy practice.(4) The ability to deliver occupational therapy services using telehealth would preserve the essential services our clients need, as well as eliminate the risk of exposure to a life-threatening virus.

Furthermore, academic studies have found occupational therapy services significantly reduce hospital admissions.(5) During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is all the more important that vulnerable populations do not sustain conditions that require hospitalization. Occupational therapy will prevent hospitalization, thereby reducing the risk of acquiring the virus and preserving scarce resources.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

[Name]
[Title, Business]
[Date]

Sources:
(1) Exec. Order No. 7G (2020), available at https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-7G.pdf?la=en.
(2) Exec. Order “Order expanding access to telehealth services and to protect health care providers” (2020), available at https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-15-2020-telehealth-order/download.
(3) Exec. Order No. 2020-09 (2020), available at https://www2.illinois.gov/Documents/ExecOrders/2020/ExecutiveOrder-2020-09.pdf.
(4) Cason, J. (2015). Telehealth and Occupational Therapy: Integral to the triple aim of health care reform, American Journal of Occupational therapy 69, 1-8.
(5) Rogers, A.T., Bai, G., Lavin, R.A., Anderson, G.F. (2017). Higher hospital spending on occupational therapy is associated with lower readmission rates, Medical Care Research and Review, 74(6), 668-686.