Does your facility offer aquatic therapy? If so do you have aquatic therapy compliance addressed to ensure compliance with Medicare requirements for your type of Medicare enrollment? Aquatic therapy may be offered at your facility, next door at the health club or a community pool such as the local YMCA. Look to your Medicare Administrative Contractor’s (MAC) Local Coverage Determination (LCD) for requirements on the use aquatic therapy as well as suggested documentation to support the medical necessity of aquatic therapy. This compliance update speaks to the use of a community pool.
Aquatic Therapy Compliance in the Community
CMS has provided guidance for the use of a community pool by a private practice:
When therapy services may be furnished appropriately in a community pool by a clinician in a physical therapist or occupational therapist private practice, physician office, outpatient hospital, or outpatient SNF, the practice/office or provider shall rent or lease the pool, or a specific portion of the pool.
The use of that part of the pool during specified times shall be restricted to the patients of that practice or provider. The written agreement to rent or lease the pool shall be available for review on request. When part of the pool is rented or leased, the agreement shall describe the part of the pool that is used exclusively by the patients of that practice/office or provider and the times that exclusive use applies.
Therapy providers using community pools, whether public or private must have a contract in place to specify the requirement as noted above. A general rental/lease contract should be completed for each community pool that your rehab program utilizes. The contract may specific for example “Northwest end of the pool on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 8 am – noon”. The contract should specify the exclusive use of the pool during the specified times that the rehab provider is using the pool. Your contract may also call for other details to be addressed by mutual agreement with the community pool such as rent, insurance coverage, use of locker room facilities, handicapped accessibility and the like.
Of note, rehab agencies and CORFs are subject to the requirements outlined in the respective State Operations Manual regarding rented or leased community pools.
Does your private practice utilize a community pool to provide aquatic therapy? Do you have a contract for the use of the pool that meets Medicare requirements? Do you have an aquatic therapy compliance program?