Move to Expand Telehealth Makes Care Safer for Seniors

March 17, 2020 — Blog    — Coronavirus Bulletin   

Key Information:

  • Vulnerable seniors on Medicare need care, and providers must be able to focus on the most critical patients, especially during this national emergency.
  • The Trump Administration has quickly acted on Congress’s work in the first coronavirus emergency supplemental to expand access to telehealth.
  • Beginning on March 6, 2020, Medicare will temporarily broaden its policy to pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for seniors across the country.

The Details:

On March 13, 2020, President Trump announced an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act. Consistent with President Trump’s emergency declaration, CMS is expanding Medicare’s telehealth benefits under the 1135 waiver authority and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Clinicians can bill immediately for dates of service starting March 6, 2020. Telehealth services are paid under the Physician Fee Schedule at the same amount as in-person services. Medicare coinsurance and deductible still apply for these services. Additionally, the HHS Office of Inspector General is providing flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal healthcare programs.

Here are links to the press release, FAQ, and fact sheet at CMS.