Reimbursement and Telehealth
The use of telehealth is rapidly expanding in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Starting March 1, 2020 and for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, Medicare will make payment for services furnished to beneficiaries in all areas of the country in all settings. Many other health insurers have also updated their telemedicine policies in response to the crisis.
Further Expansion of Telehealth in Medicare, Including an Increase in Payments for Telephone Visits Retroactive to March 1: On April 30, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a further expansion of telehealth in Medicare. CMS previously announced that Medicare would pay for certain services conducted by audio-only telephone between beneficiaries and their doctors and other clinicians. Now, CMS is broadening that list to include many behavioral health and patient education services. CMS is also increasing payments for these telephone visits to match payments for similar office and outpatient visits. This would increase payments for these services from a range of about $14-$41 to about $46-$110. The payments are retroactive to March 1, 2020. Get details on all the changes announced on April 30 here.
Additionally, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will waive penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients in good faith through everyday communications technologies, such as FaceTime or Skype, during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. Note that OCR also offers guidance for providers on civil rights protections during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) has created a telehealth reference sheet to help physicians, practices, and health care organizations navigate telehealth and e-visits. Click the button below to view the resource, which was last updated on Aug. 7, 2020:
View Telehealth Reference Sheet