On October 14, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded the list of telehealth services that Medicare Fee-For-Service will pay for during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency. According to CMS, the agency is also providing additional support to state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies in their efforts to expand access to telehealth.
The Trump administration first expanded Medicare to cover telehealth services in March. Then, in a May rule, CMS tweaked the process for adding or removing services from the Medicare telehealth list to allow for faster processing during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
For the first time using the new expedited process, CMS is adding 11 new services to the Medicare telehealth services list. The expansion means that the 11 telehealth services will be reimbursed for the duration of the public health emergency. Medicare will begin paying eligible practitioners who furnish these newly added telehealth services effective immediately, and for the duration of emergency declaration, which was renewed for another 90 days on October 2, 2020.
According to CMS, the additions are part of the latest push by the agency to accelerate use of telehealth by removing reimbursement barriers. The list of these newly added services is available here. The additions bring coverage by Medicare to a total of 144 telehealth services.
CMS also released a new toolkit to give states more guidance on how to expand use of telehealth in Medicaid and CHIP, as well as updated supplemental information that is intended to help states strategically think through how they explain and clarify to providers and other stakeholders which policies are temporary or permanent. The documents are designed to help states identify services that can be accessed through telehealth, which providers may deliver those services, the ways providers may use in order to deliver services through telehealth, as well as the circumstances under which telehealth can be reimbursed once the public health emergency expires.