How Telehealth Changes Can Benefit Providers and Keep Patients Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Over the past month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued many regulatory changes regarding telehealth services. The changes positively impact many health care providers. A few of the current, most impactful changes include:
- Telehealth services are now available to patients, both new and established, in ALL areas, not just established patients in rural areas. Telehealth is the distribution of health-related services and information to patients via audio and video communication. Physicians and other authorized providers can now provide these services to hospitalized patients, residents of skilled nursing facilities and patients in their own home.
- The expansion of telehealth applies to ALL patients, not just those with COVID-19.
- Telephone (audio) only visits are now authorized by the CMS.
- The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has authorized providers to waive deductible and co-pay requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic for telehealth services. Co-pays and deductibles still apply for telephone visits.
- Originating Site Services: The waiver authorized by the CMS not only expands the ability for providers to offer telehealth services, it also expands the geography for originating sites. This means that hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and physician offices in non-rural areas can bill and receive payment as an originating site if they connect a patient in their facility or office to a telehealth provider.
CMS is issuing new regulatory updates on an on-going basis. How these new waivers apply to commercially insured patients varies by carrier. Be sure to check with your commercial carriers regarding these new waivers.
FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program
Late last week, the Federal Communications Commission announced $200 million in funding through the CARES Act for the Connected Care program. These grants are for eligible non-profit and public healthcare providers and are intended to assist these providers in obtaining the information services, technology and devices necessary to provide Originating Site services. The applications for these funds went live on Monday, April 13 at noon Eastern time.
For additional information, visit: https://www.fcc.gov/covid-19-telehealth-program
Our team at Brown Smith Wallace is developing a controllable cost tracking and management methodology to assist health care providers with tracking their costs and lost revenues across the various funding mechanisms from the CARES Act, FEMA, HHS and other resources.
For questions about the CMS’s regulatory updates, the FCC program or our cost tracking and management methodology, please contact Ron Present, Advisory Partner and Health Care Industry Group Leader, at 314.983.1358 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Mark Renken, Advisory Director, at 636.754.0234 or email@example.com; or Tamika Mitchell, Advisory Manager, at 314.824.5294 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for an invitation to our upcoming webinar on Thursday, April 30, about stimulus funding governance, management and accountability for health care providers.