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Trump Administration Continues to Expand Telehealth Services for Medicare Beneficiaries

October 15, 2020

Key Takeaway: In response to President Trump’s Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access, CMS announced yesterday an additional set of telehealth services that Medicare will pay for during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), as well as additional support for Medicaid and the Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

As the Trump Administration furthers its push to expand telehealth access, it is clear that Congress must work to maintain these services permanently for patients, as outlined in the Ways and Means Republicans’ telehealth discussion draft, presented by Health Subcommittee Leader Devin Nunes.

The Details

  • On October 14, CMS announced it is adding 11 new services to the Medicare telehealth services list
  • Effective immediately and for the duration of the PHE, Medicare will start paying eligible practitioners who provide these services
  • These new services include certain neurostimulator analysis and programming services, and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services.
  • Since the beginning of the PHE, CMS has now added 144 services that Medicare will pay for performed via telehealth.
  • Additionally, for the first time, CMS is releasing a glimpse into preliminary Medicaid and CHIP data on telehealth utilization in an effort to provide greater transparency.

As part of the federal response to the COVID-19 PHE, both Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have expanded the use of telemedicine for the duration of the PHE, including:

  • Waiving the Medicare requirement that telehealth be conducted only in rural areas and certain types of health care facilities and providers
  • Expanding the types of services Medicare providers can bill for telehealth
  • Enabling certain types of Medicare services traditionally done face-to-face to be conducted via telehealth, such as home dialysis and hospice services
  • Expanding access through audio-only telehealth
  • Allowing Medicare Advantage plans for offer more telehealth services Appropriating $200 million to the Federal Communications Commission in the to create the COVID-19 Telehealth Program in order to support telehealth services across the country and specifically promote telehealth for low-income consumers.

Want to read more on the fight against Coronavirus? Read our Coronavirus Bulletin here which contains our extensive FAQ about recent federal actions.

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