March 9, 2022 - Congress is set to grant a five-month extension to telehealth flexibilities created during the pandemic as part of a sweeping spending package filed by the House early Wednesday morning.
The extension would leave the flexibilities in place for 151 days after the end of the federal public health emergency, which currently expires in April but is expected to be extended into July.
The House plans to vote on the $1.5 trillion package Wednesday to put it to the Senate by Friday.
The telehealth accommodations extended by the omnibus bill allow adults aged 65 and up Medicare coverage for telehealth visits, including some audio-only visits, regardless of where the patient lives relative to the healthcare provider.
Previously, Medicare only reimbursed services for patients living in rural areas, and only covered services provided by physicians and select practitioners.
Under the pandemic's telehealth flexibilities, all Medicare-enrolled providers can bill for telehealth services, and Medicare covers telehealth visits that take place from the patient's home as well as from medical facilities.
The bill will also postpone the requirement that older adults who seek virtual mental health care have an in-person visit within six months of the telehealth visit.
The provisions apply only to Medicare reimbursement for telehealth, but private insurers are likely to follow suit.
Negotiations on the omnibus bill stalled last week when the White House requested the package include $22.5 billion in COVID-19 relief, as well as $10 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine.
The current draft in the House designates $13.6 billion to Ukraine but only $15.6 billion for pandemic relief.
Stopgap funding will expire Friday night at midnight, but the House is expected to pass an extension through March 15 to give the bill sufficient time in the Senate and prevent a government shutdown.
Various bipartisan bills have been introduced since the start of the pandemic to make telehealth flexibilities permanent.
While these bills have received overwhelming public support, concerns about the risk of fraud with telehealth usage, unnecessary spending and worsened patient outcomes have hovered over lawmakers.
The omnibus bill proposes that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission conduct a study about Medicare telehealth utilization, program expenditures on telehealth services, telehealth payment policies and the impacts of telehealth's expansion during the pandemic on the access to and quality of care.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would also display quarterly data on Medicare claims for telehealth services on its website beginning in July.
Posted on FierceHealthcare.com
By: Rebecca Torrence
Alpha Medical Group, LLC
P.O. Box 4095
Monroe, CT 06468
Toll Free: 800.584.5001
Alpha Medical Group delivers accurate, hassle-free healthcare recruitment solutions. Our unique search methodology, proprietary custom-designed software and high performing team members strive to ensure that the highest quality of service is provided to our clients.
We are focused on finding the right job for you!
|About Alpha Medical
|For Advanced Practitioners
|Paying it Forward
|Join Our Team
all materials ©2024 Alpha Medical Group
website by humanitects