CMS ups telephone visit pay about 140%, covers telehealth physical therapy: 5 things to know

Jackie Drees -   Print  | Email

CMS is expanding its list of audio-only telephone services covered by Medicare as well as making several other updates to telehealth coverage.

Five updates

1. Covered audio-only telephone services now include various behavioral health and patient education services. CMS is also increasing payments for telephone visits between beneficiaries and their clinicians to match payments for similar office and outpatient visits. Payments for such services will now increase from about $14 to $41 to about $46 to $110. The payments are retroactive to March 1.

2. CMS further expands telehealth access and services for Medicare beneficiaries during the pandemic. The agency now allows clinical practitioners including physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists to deliver telehealth services. Prior to the update, only physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants could provide telehealth services.

3. Hospitals may also now bill for services delivered remotely by hospital-based practitioners to Medicare patients. These services include counseling, educational and therapy services. Hospitals can also now bill as the originating site for telehealth services delivered by hospital-based practitioners to Medicare patients registered as hospital outpatients, including when the patient is at home.

4. CMS is changing its rulemaking process and will now add new telehealth services to the list of Medicare coverage on a sub-regulatory basis. The agency will consider requests by practitioners learning to use telehealth as broadly as possible.

5. The agency is waiving the video requirement for certain telephone evaluation and management services covered under Medicare and is also paying for Medicare telehealth services provided by rural health clinics and federally qualified health clinics.

For a full list of CMS updates since the pandemic began, click here.

More articles on telehealth:
Massachusetts provides free COVID-19 telehealth services to uninsured residents
Georgia launches free telehealth app amid lifting social distancing guidelines
How Phoenix Children's built a telemedicine dashboard and transitioned 6K visits in one week

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