Two recent developments may broaden Medicare patients’ access to telehealth services beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) debuted a new telehealth indicator on clinician profile pages to help patients searching for such services. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden signed into law on Dec. 29 a spending package that extends certain pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities for Medicare patients through Dec. 31, 2024.
The CMS telehealth indicator will appear on clinician profile pages on the Medicare Care Compare website – where patients and caregivers can search for and compare Medicare clinicians and facilities – and in the Provider Data Catalog, which lists clinicians’ and facilities’ performance data.
To identify which clinicians provide telehealth services, CMS is relying on coding information from claims made in the past six months and says it will update clinician profile pages on a bimonthly basis.
“With the growth in patients seeking telehealth due to the ongoing [public health emergency (PHE)], and CMS finalizing and expanding coverage of certain telehealth services, adding an indicator to clinician profile pages clarifies for website users which clinicians offer telehealth services,” CMS explained in a fact sheet.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, a $1.7 trillion omnibus law, extends certain Medicare telehealth flexibilities tied to the PHE for two years, regardless of the status of the PHE, which is slated to expire in mid-April. The flexibilities include:
- Waiving site restrictions to allow patients to access telehealth services at home;
- Allowing patients who are unable or unwilling to use video to access audio-only telehealth services; and
- Delaying an in-person visit requirement for patients who receive behavioral telehealth services.
CMS already has made permanent some of these flexibilities for behavioral telehealth services, namely allowing Medicare patients to access such visits from their home and via audio-only technology. The federal agency also has moved to permanently cover video-based mental health visits for patients at rural and federally qualified health centers.
Last Updated On
January 23, 2023
Originally Published On
January 23, 2023