Apparently , APWU is not alone with our concerns regarding the partnership between the Postal Service and Align Networks.
Recent communications from the United States Postal Service and Align Networks generated enough distress among OWCP officials that its Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation issued a statement earlier today on its website that asserts OWCP as the only authority with the power to determine what medical care will be authorized. It emphasizes medical providers are not required to refer claimants to Align Networks for authorization for physical therapy and that postal employees are not required to use Align Networks, or affiliated physical therapists for scheduling or treatment of a condition approved by OWCP under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. The posting clarifies the authorization and billing processes, and deflates the Postal Service’s notion that utilization of Align Networks will save employees money.
Members who have questions or concerns about Align Networks or their OWCP claim should contact their local or state APWU representative. Representatives seeking additional information or guidance should contact the Human Relations Department.
Susan M. Carney, Director
APWU Human Relations Department
OWCP News Alert:
No Change in OWCP Procedures for Physical Therapy Authorizations
Recent communications from the United States Postal Service and Align Networks have caused confusion regarding the process for securing authorization for physical therapy for treatment of approved conditions under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). Under 5 U.S.C. 8103 and its implementing regulations and procedures, only the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has the authority to determine what medical care will be authorized. Authorization requests should continue to be sent to ACS as OWCP’s designated bill processing agent; authorizations and bills are processed by ACS in accordance with OWCP’s established guidelines. In addition:
- Medical Providers are not required to refer USPS claimants only to the Align Network for authorization for physical therapy; any communication that suggests or implies otherwise is simply incorrect.
- Align Networks does not have the power to authorize physical therapy treatment under FECA.
Consistent with past practice, all requests for authorization of physical therapy must be submitted to OWCP’s medical billing contractor, ACS, using the template approved by OWCP. If the request is not submitted electronically through the ACS web portal at http://owcp.dol.acsinc.com, any request for authorization of physical therapy must be faxed to 800-215-4901. Faxing a request for physical therapy to any other number will delay OWCP/ACS’s processing and authorization of physical therapy. In addition:’
- No federal employee (including any USPS employee/claimant) is required to use Align Network, or a physical therapist that is affiliated with Align Network, for scheduling or treatment of a condition approved by OWCP under FECA.
- Regardless of what provider is used, there are never co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses under FECA for physical therapy treatment for an approved condition.While OWCP has no objection to any claimant using Align Network for physical therapy, such use cannot reduce an injured employee’s out of pocket expenses as there are none.
USPS Notification to APWU:
The Postal Service has notified [PDF] the APWU that it has established a relationship with Align Networks to provide physical therapy services for employees with work related injuries and illnesses. APWU strongly discourages member participation.
October 21, 2011
Mr. Cliff Guffey
American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO
1300 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005-4128
As a matter of general interest, the Postal Service has established a relationship with Align Networks to provide physical therapy services for employees with work related injuries and illnesses. The program is strictly voluntary. Injured employees have the option of using the Align Networks or a physical therapy provider of their choice.
The new program includes:
• Injured employees with claims currently in effect and new claimants with traumatic Injury claims pending adjudication are eligible for the program.
• Employees who complete a claim of a job related traumatic injury (Form CA-1) will be provided contact information for Align Networks (a card or toll-free number).
• In cases where the employee submits a claim of an occupational injury or illness (Form CA-2), an Align Networks card will be issued to the employee by First Class Mail once the claim has been accepted.
• Scheduling of physical therapy is through the network. Align Networks will coordinate physical therapy appointments with the therapy provider and the injured employee.
• When utilizing Align Networks for physical therapy services, employees do not need to obtain prior approval from the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.
Overview of Benefits:
• There is no out-of-pocket expense to the employee.
• A more efficient, accurate, and timely processing of physical therapy requests and services.
• Twenty-four hours a day, seven days-a-week call center provided by Align Networks.
• Continual expansion of provider network to offer a larger pool of providers.
If you have any questions please contact Richard Norcross at extension 4061.
Manager Policy and Programs