CMS Weighs Considerations for Permanent Expansion of Telehealth Capabilities

As previously reported, Congress has been weighing legislation that would make some changes and expansions to telehealth services permanent following the conclusion of the COVID-19 public health emergency. On July 15, 2020, the director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma, published a blog analyzing the data collected since the temporary expansion of telehealth and telehealth’s impact on beneficiary access to care. There has been an obvious surge in telehealth services since many restrictions and limitations were waived and patients and providers worked toward avoiding unnecessary and potentially risky in-person encounters. Looking forward to whether some of these changes may be implemented permanently, CMS is considering: (1) the importance of determining when telehealth services are clinically appropriate and safe for patients; (2) Medicare payment rates for telehealth services and whether adjustments in rates are necessary and appropriate; and (3) how CMS can protect the Medicare program from fraud and abuse by “unscrupulous actors” who attempt to manipulate telehealth services to receive overpayments.

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