Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency (PHE) on January 27, 2020. Subsequently, Congress passed and the president signed three bills that provide varying degrees of regulatory and financial relief for healthcare providers during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) PHE. These bills have triggered a cascade of actions from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) designed to increase access to and use of telehealth services, and provide flexibilities for providers to complete certain administrative requirements virtually. Greater reliance on virtual care and administration may limit patient travel and exposure to COVID-19 and reduce the spread of the virus, in adherence to other federal guidelines. At the same time, telehealth gives providers an opportunity to provide some healthcare services to their patients without a face-to-face encounter, preserving revenue during the crisis.
This +Insight has been updated to reflect additional changes from the CMS Interim Final Rule of April 30, 2020. These changes are highlighted in the chart.
- Congress and the Administration have substantially loosened Medicare restrictions on, and expanded the use of, telehealth services, but only for the duration of the COVID-19 PHE.
- CMS has allowed additional flexibility for the use of audio-only communications to provide telehealth services.
- CMS has expanded the types of clinical practitioners that can furnish Medicare telehealth services.
- CMS will add new telehealth services on a sub-regulatory basis during the PHE.
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For more information, contact Rachel Stauffer, Mara McDermott, Dale Van Demark, Lisa Schmitz Mazur, Marshall Jackson, Jr., or Amanda Enyeart.