Florida’s Behavior Analysts Make Some Strides

A blue door with two small holes in it.
Close-up of psychiatrist hands in those of patient

Last month, we wrote about Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) decision to postpone planned cuts to Medicaid reimbursement rates for behavioral health therapists. But at that time, AHCA did not specify for how long the postponement would last.

Now, we learn from the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis that the Florida Legislature is ensuring that rates will remain the same for the rest of 2019 by including language in its budget that AHCA must pay for BA services at the same rates paid as of April 1, 2019, and may not reduce such rates during the fiscal year.

Those rates are:

  • Lead Analyst (e.g.,BCBA) $76.20 per hour
  • Assistant Analyst $60.96 per hour
  • Registered Behavior Technician $48.76 per hour

The move follows significant public feedback, not only from those in the behavior health arena, but also from patients and their advocates. AHCA had argued that a growing problem with fraud and abuse led them to their decision to reduce rates. More specifically, they said some therapists were falsifying credentials and billing for more hours than there are in a day.

AHCA also now plans to launch a pilot GPS tracking program as part of its effort to crack down on Medicaid fraud in several counties, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach starting in July. This will allow AHCA to track those behavior analysts and therapists through a smartphone application that verifies when and where they are working.

A positive step for behavioral health providers came in the form of HB 23, which considers Board Certified Behavior Analysts, certified under Section 393.17, Florida Statutes telehealth providers.

HB 23 sets regulatory standards for delivery of care online. The law makes it clear that a telehealth provider has the duty to practice in a manner consistent with his or her scope of practice and the prevailing professional standard of practice for a healthcare professional who provides in-person health care services to Florida patients.

The new law also allows out-of-state healthcare professionals, without a Florida license, to use telehealth to deliver healthcare services to Florida patients, if they register with the Department of Health or the applicable board, meet certain eligibility requirements, and pay a fee.

The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale represents Provider Type 39 entities in various matters including, but not limited to, licensure, overpayments, payment restrictions and criminal referrals to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Give us a call at 305-358-4500, or send an email to info@vitalehealthlaw.com and let’s discuss how we might be able to assist you.

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The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale