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CMS Shares Specifics on Sweeping Medicare Telehealth Expansion

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provide guidance on new telehealth regulations that would allow Medicare to reimburse for more telehealth visits.  Mei Kwong, executive director of PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy comments on the increased use of telemedicine, including among nursing homes.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma unveiled changes on Tuesday that would significantly widen Medicare’s telehealth coverage in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Providers had been waiting for the much-anticipated guidance, which clarified Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s move to waive certain Medicare restrictions on Friday.

The sweeping changes could play an important role in the trajectory of the disease, letting older patients who face a higher risk from the disease receive care at home.

…The changes went into effect for visits starting on March 6. Medicare will pay for the video visits the same as it would an in-person appointment, and providers are allowed to waive copays or other out-of-pocket costs.

…Facilities that haven’t used telehealth in the past are now starting to ask questions about how to implement new technologies, said Mei Kwong, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy. For example, her office has seen an uptick in skilled nursing facilities asking for help.

“Now that we have this pandemic that we’re facing here, all of these places are realizing, we’ve got to really stretch our resources in some way, and we also need to minimize contact,” she said. “We’ve been slammed with questions coming from all different sectors. … Everybody is asking, how can I best do this to keep ensuring patient safety, and have less potential exposure to the virus here?”

Read the article.

Originally published by MedCity News


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