January 4, 2021
On August 04, 2020 President Trump signed the Executive Order on Improving Rural and Telehealth Access. Under this order, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will expand telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries.
CMS is seeking input from the public to determine which telehealth services should be permanently covered.
The Executive Order calls for the expansion of telehealth services to be made permanent, particularly in rural areas where telehealth is particularly useful.
“Rural healthcare providers, in particular, need these types of flexibilities to provide continuous care to patients in their communities. It is the purpose of this order to increase access to, improve the quality or, and improve the financial economics of rural healthcare, including increasing access to high-quality care through telehealth,” the Executive Order states.
Telehealth waivers from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
Temporary policy changes during the Coronavirus pandemic
Temporary expansion of telehealth services during COVID-19
During the public health emergency, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) may serve as distant telehealth sites and provide telehealth services to patients in their homes.
Continued telehealth reimbursement is finding bipartisan support at the national level and in many states. According to TBHI’s research team, it is likely, however, that the future of continued legislative permissiveness will continue to be hazy until January of 2021. The upcoming election and continued uncertainty about COVID seem to have stolen the thunder from the legislative storm that introduced many continued as well as new reimbursement possibilities for telehealth. However, it is getting increasingly clear that significant legislation regarding the permanence of current telehealth legislation will NOT pass this year.
Leading healthcare experts released a report this week outlining major policy recommendations to support the expanded use of telehealth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Taskforce on Telehealth Policy’s recommendations include lifting limitations on originating sites, allowing telehealth for various types of conditions and reinstating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provisions temporarily lifted during the public health emergency.
The report also recommends that policymakers take steps to expand access to broadband and technology infrastructure to promote equity and not exacerbate care disparities.Source: https://www.fiercehealthcare.
New telehealth policies will likely need to balance potential increased access to services with potential cost increases, as well as payment and licensing changes and what they may mean for provider business models