US Federal Actions Support Continuation of Telehealth Services for Medicare Beneficiaries | Jones Day

On March 15, 2022, the Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed into law, extending Medicare telehealth reimbursement flexibilities for 151 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.

On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed into law Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 (the “Act”), extending certain Medicare Telehealth reimbursement flexibilities for 151 days after the declared end of COVID-19 public health emergency. At the start of the pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) implemented certain general exemptions Medicare telehealth coverage requirements. These derogations rremoved geographic and origin site limitations, expanded the types of health care providers that can provide telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries, and allowed the use of audio-only equipment to provide certain telehealth services. Waivers were to expire immediately when the public health emergency expired, creating uncertainty for providers who took advantage of them. With the passage of the law, waivers will now remain in effect for 151 days after the public health emergency ends.

The law followed CMS’s actions earlier this year to extend and expand Medicare coverage for telehealth services. For example, CMS expanded coverage of telehealth services as part of its annual report Physician Fee Schedule. In particular, CMS has permanently expanded coverage of the diagnosis, assessment, or treatment of certain mental health conditions to include services provided to beneficiaries located in their homes (so geographic restrictions on telehealth services traditional do not apply). For these services to be covered, an in-person service other than telehealth must be provided within six months prior to the first telehealth visit and at least once within 12 months of each subsequent telehealth service (unless otherwise specified), and services should be distinguished and documented in the patient’s medical record. CMS has also permanently extended audio-only telecommunications coverage for mental health conditions when certain conditions are met. Specifically, the patient must be located at home, the provider must have the ability to use both audio and video communication, and the recipient must choose to use audio technology only because they are unable or unable to does not consent to the use of audio/video technology. .

Lawmakers recently introduced other bills to further expand Medicare telehealth coverage. These invoices include the Telehealth Extension Act of 2021 (HR 6202) and the Telehealth Extension and Evaluation Act (S. 3593).

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