Telehealth Update: CMS Proposed CY 2021 Payment Policies, Extension of the Public Health Emergency, Increasing Access after COVID-19, and the Coronavirus Stimulus Package
On August 4, CMS posted a proposed rule on CY 2021 Payment Policies, which included important updates about the expansion of Medicare-covered telehealth services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This follows on the heels of Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s renewal of the federal public health emergency (“PHE”) on July 23. The PHE, which was initially declared in January, has been extended through October 21, 2020, unless the Secretary declares that the PHE has ended or renews it for additional 90 day periods.
As previously covered here, a significant number of telehealth waivers on the federal and state level are tied to the PHE. The most significant CMS waivers include:
- Allowing the provision of certain Medicare covered services via audio-only technology;
- Expansion of the types of professionals who may furnish distant site telehealth services; and
- Expansion of the list of Medicare covered telehealth services and modification of the process to add new services through sub-regulatory guidance.