The agency said it will temporarily allow more than 80 additional services to be provided via telehealth.

Earlier this month The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had expanded reimbursement for telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries. But on Monday the agency announced additional changes:

  • Providers can now bill for telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits. Telehealth visits include emergency department visits, initial nursing facility and discharge visits, home visits, and therapy services (provided that a clinician who is allowed to deliver telehealth administers the services).
  • Previously, telehealth was only available to patients who had an established relationship with their doctors. Now, physicians can provide these services to both new and established patients.
  • Providers can evaluate beneficiaries who have audio phones only.
  • Telehealth can fulfill many face-to-face visit requirements for clinicians to see their patients in inpatient rehabilitation facilities, hospice, and home health. During the pandemic, individuals can use commonly available interactive apps with audio and video capabilities to visit with providers.
  • Clinicians may provide remote patient monitoring services to patients, no matter if it is for COVID-19 or a chronic condition. For example, CMS said that clinicians can use pulse oximetry to monitor a patient’s oxygen saturation levels.
  • If a physician determines that a Medicare beneficiary shouldn’t leave home because of a medical contraindication or due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and the beneficiary needs skilled services, he or she will be considered homebound and qualify for the Medicare Home Health Benefit. As a result, the patient can receive services at home.
  • Physicians may supervise clinical staff using virtual technologies when appropriate instead of in-person supervision.
  • Home health agencies can provide services to beneficiaries using telehealth as long as it is part of the patient’s plan of care and doesn’t replace needed in-person visits as ordered on the plan of care.
  • Hospice providers can also provide telehealth services to a Medicare patient who receives routine home care, if it’s feasible and appropriate to do so.
  • CMS will temporarily allow more than 80 additional services to be provided via telehealth. Click here for the entire list of services.

For more information on COVID-19 waivers and guidance, click here