Medicare Loosens its Telehealth Regulations
Medicare Telehealth Changes
As our nation faces the uncertainty of COVID-19’s impact on the healthcare system, The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is changing previously held regulations to help protect Medicare recipients during this time.
CMS has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that patients can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. This is part of a broader effort by CMS to ensure that all Americans – particularly those at high-risk of complications from COVID-19 – can communicate with their physicians from the safety of their homes while helping to contain the community spread of this virus.
According to CMS, “Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive a specific set of services through telehealth including evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling and preventive health screenings. This will help ensure Medicare beneficiaries…are able to visit with their doctor from their home, without having to go to a doctor’s office or hospital which puts themselves and others at risk.”
Impact on Home Health
For home health, this temporarily eliminates the in-person requirement to qualify for home health care. A physician can now meet with their patient using telehealth and prescribe home care without needing to meet the patient face-to-face. This allows the patient to receive the care they need without risking traveling outside of the home.
While this change was introduced as temporary, CMS will certainly monitor the impact of telehealth in the weeks to come. Will we see a permanent loosening of Medicare regulations as many begin to use these telehealth services for the first time? Time will tell.
For more information on these broadened regulations, you can view CMS’ fact sheet which details all recent Medicare telehealth changes.