Providers have 11 additional telehealth services that will be reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. CMS announced yesterday the addition of these 11 new services to the Medicare telehealth services list.
Medicare will begin paying eligible practitioners for these services immediately, and for the duration of the PHE. These new telehealth services include certain neurostimulator analysis and programming services and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services.
CMS is also providing additional support to state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program agencies in their efforts to expand access to telehealth through the release of a new supplement to its State Medicaid & CHIP Telehealth Toolkit: Policy Considerations for States Expanding Use of Telehealth, COVID-19 Version.
The updated supplemental information clarifies to states, providers and other stakeholders which telehealth policies are temporary or permanent. It also helps states identify services that can be accessed through telehealth, which providers may deliver those services and the circumstances under which telehealth can be reimbursed once the PHE expires.
WHY THIS MATTERS
The use of telehealth has grown during the pandemic as CMS has allowed greater flexibility for its use.
Reimbursement at parity for an in-person visit has been a main driver.
CMS has made some temporary telehealth measures permanent, but providers still await an announcement on whether payment parity will remain when the public health emergency ends.
A preliminary Medicaid and CHIP data snapshot on telehealth utilization during the PHE shows there have been more than 34.5 million services delivered via telehealth to Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries between March and June of this year, representing an increase of more than 2,600% when compared to the same period from the prior year.
The data also shows that adults ages 19-64 received the most services delivered via telehealth, although there was substantial variance across both age groups and states.
THE LARGER TREND
Since the beginning of the public health emergency, CMS has added over 135 services to the Medicare telehealth services list – such as emergency department visits, initial inpatient and nursing facility visits, and discharge day management services.
The additional services being added totals 144 services performed by telehealth that will be paid by Medicare.
Between mid-March and mid-August 2020, over 12.1 million Medicare beneficiaries – more than 36% – of people with Medicare fee-for-service have sought care through telemedicine.
The 11 new services being added to the Medicare telehealth services list are the first being done through an expedited process allowed under the May 1 COVID-19 Interim Final Rule with comment period.
CMS actions follow through on President Trump's Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access.
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