Medicine Calls for Keeping Medicaid, CHIP Telemedicine Changes Past July 31
By David Doolittle

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The Texas Medical Association and several state specialty societies have urged Gov. Greg Abbott and the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to extend some Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) flexibilities for at least another three months.

The extensions – including Medicaid coverage of telephone (audio-only) telemedicine visits and waiving CHIP office visit copayments – have been enacted to help physicians safely and effectively care for all patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are set to expire July 31.

“Currently, [HHSC] extends most of its waivers on a month-to-month basis, making it very difficult for physicians to plan ahead,” medicine’s letter said. “This is particularly problematic for telemedicine-related flexibilities, where physicians cannot schedule patients beyond a 30-day period much less anticipate patient volume and staffing needs because they don’t know if the service will still be payable.”

Specifically, the letter calls for the following flexibilities to be extended for three months, with the opportunity for ongoing extension:

  • Medicaid telemedicine and telehealth waivers, including continuing use of telephone (audio)-only telemedicine/health coverage and authority to provide virtual well-child visits for children over age 24 months;
  • Suspension of Medicaid revalidation requirements;
  • Elimination of cost-sharing for children enrolled in CHIP; and
  • Automatic extension of eligibility renewals for children whose CHIP coverage will expire while the federal public health emergency is in effect.

“We understand that extending Texas Medicaid’s COVID-19-related telemedicine and other regulatory flexibilities depends largely on whether the U.S. secretary of health and human services decides to renew the current national public health emergency, which will expire on July 25 without action,” the letter says. “However, all indications are that the secretary will do so. When that happens, we urge Texas to swiftly extend Medicaid’s COVID-19 flexibilities for three months.”

The Texas Pediatric Society, Texas Academy of Family Physicians, Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Texas chapter of the American College of Physicians also signed on to the letter.

To help you understand all of the changes to telemedicine during the pandemic, TMA has published up-to-date information for each type of payer.

Stay on top of the latest news, resources, and government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak by visiting TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center regularly.

Last Updated On

July 22, 2020

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David Doolittle

Editor

(512) 370-1385

Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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