Medicare further expands payment for and coverage of telehealth and similar services

Through several recently published rules, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is making it possible for Medicare beneficiaries to have greater access to health care services provided remotely through telehealth or "telehealth-like" methods and to implement telehealth provisions included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA), as we discussed in a previous alert.

The recently posted Medicare physician fee schedule (PFS) and home health prospective payment system (HH PPS) final rules and the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Benefit proposed rule all included provisions that establish or would establish new rules concerning telehealth or related services. Viewed together, this demonstrates the CMS' belief that telehealth and related communication technology-based services can provide expanded access to high-quality and cost-effective health services and that the CMS will be providing more flexibility to encourage the use of these services. These changes recognize growing beneficiary and health care professional comfort with the use of communication technology in the provision of health services. The changes also implicitly acknowledge the growing demand for the convenience of telehealth services. It remains to be seen whether these Medicare program developments will result in expanded coverage of telehealth services under any state Medicaid programs.

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