Pediatric teletherapy provider DotCom Therapy has been approved to accept Medicaid in Wisconsin through the BadgerCare Plus program.
It’s a milestone for the company, which provides speech, behavioral and occupational therapy through video conferencing. In the past, DotCom has only worked with commercial insurers and schools. It’s currently in 41 states, partners with 400 schools and works with 13 commercial payers.
The company wanted to accept Medicaid so it could reach children from low-income backgrounds. DotCom, based in Madison, Wisconsin, decided to begin in its home state with the BadgerCare Plus program, which encompasses about one-third of all Wisconsin children, said Rachel Mack Robinson, president and founder of DotCom.
“If you think of the barriers to care, you’ve got affordability and accessibility,” Robinson said. “We’re getting rid of the accessibility barrier through teletherapy. And we’re trying to knock down that affordability barrier by working with Medicaid.”
For kids who don’t have adequate access to technology, the company has a device loan program. DotCom also helps patients find technology through resources in their community, like libraries, which may be able to offer free devices and Wi-Fi.
While it’s starting in Wisconsin, DotCom is working to accept Medicaid in other states in the future.
Contracting with both schools and health plans is what sets DotCom apart from competitors, Robinson said. Pediatric teletherapy companies in schools include Presence Learning and eLuma, while groups that work with parents’ employers or health plans include Brightline and Hopscotch. And those that accept Medicaid are rare, she said. One is Charlie Health, which offers virtual behavioral health care. But DotCom differs because it provides speech and occupational therapy in addition to behavioral, Robinson stated.
“When we initially entered the market, it was working with these [Kindergarten through 12th-grade] schools,” Robinson said. “But we know that these needs exist outside of the school walls.”
All of DotCom’s therapists are W-2 employees, which makes its retention rate higher and easier to enroll in different health plans, said Bridget Krueger, the company’s chief development officer. Its retention rate is 97%. Having high retention is key because employee turnover creates a lot of administrative work for not only the provider, but also Medicaid, Krueger added. This helped DotCom secure a Medicaid contract, she said.
The administrative burden is likely what has held back other pediatric teletherapy providers from accepting Medicaid.
“There are a lot of factors that have probably prevented other pediatric teletherapy companies from accepting Medicaid — from reimbursement rates, to administrative red tape …,” said Dr. Andrey Ostrovsky, former chief medical officer for the U.S. Medicaid Program, in a news release. “DotCom Therapy is lighting the way and creating a path for others to follow that can help lift the wellbeing of children and families across the country by making it easier to receive care when and where it’s best for them.”
Photo: Alisa Zahoruiko, Getty Images