Starting in April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began introducing over 80 new reimbursable Telehealth services for Medicare Members.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS has lifted restrictions and altered regulation, making it easier for providers to offer digital services to patients. The use of virtual visits and remote care have been monumental as COVID-19 requires everyone to distance themselves from medical facilities. Patients who depend on their providers for quality care on a weekly or daily basis are able to continue their care regimen and communicate with them without disregarding social distancing guidelines.
COVID-19 Prompts CMS to Eliminate Barriers to Telehealth
Right up until the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 was officially a global pandemic, CMS had a range of regulations limiting access to reimbursements for providers wanting to offer telehealth to Medicare beneficiaries.
These regulations involved limitations on the type of technology that was necessary for a telehealth visit, what services could be offered via telehealth, and the relationship between patient and provider in order to qualify for reimbursements.
What Has Changed?
The main thing that has changed is that CMS has made it possible for providers to continue caring for patients while they remain safely in their homes during the remainder of COVID-19. Congress decided in the bill titled the “Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020,” to wave several restrictions including the following:
1) Geographical Boundaries
Providers can earn reimbursements for offering telehealth services to patients outside of their normal geographical restrictions. No matter where they are located, the patient is able to continue working with their physician through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2) Length of Patient-Provider Relationship
Congress lifted previously set restrictions for CMS telehealth reimbursement due to COVID-19. This included the restrictions stating that the patient must be established with their provider for three years prior to the telehealth visit in order for the provider to earn reimbursement.
3) Technology Restrictions
Regulations on technology have also been adjusted to meet the needs of patients and providers thought the duration of COVID-19. A provider can now offer telehealth services to patients by phone as long as it is enabled for audio-video interaction.
4) 80 New Services covered
CMS is now reimbursing providers for over 80 new services delivered via telehealth. This includes Emergency Department (ED) visits, Initial Nursing facility/discharge visits, and home visits delivered by qualified providers to eligible patients.
During a season where everyone is working together to slow the progression of COVID-19, providers everywhere are turning to telehealth. With virtual visits and remote care opportunities, patients can continue getting the quality care they need while practicing social distancing and self-isolation.
With the new adjustments made by CMS, providers can continue to bill for the services they need to protect their bottom line and grow their practice after a solution to COVID-19 is found. To learn more about a telehealth solution that can help your practice at this time, click here.