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The Medicare Physician Fee schedule for 2018 could potentially increase the payment schedule for  telehealth services included as part of the meaningful use Stage 3 requirement.

July 14, 2017 by Tom Sullivan

Regulations would keep meaningful use Stage 3 reporting requirements, increase some patient reimbursements and cut drug payments.

Telehealth just might get a boost, even incrementally, from a proposed rule the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services posted Thursday.

In the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule 2018, CMS proposed paying for new care services delivered via telehealth, including psychotherapy for crisis situations, planning for chronic care management programs, health risk assessments, interactive complexity and virtual visits to determine whether a patient is eligible for low dose computed tomography.

Usual conditions apply. Virtual visits have to be conducted through an interactive telecommunication system by a doctor or authorized clinician to an eligible patient located in what CMS considers to be a telehealth originating site.

In addition to the physician fee schedule, CMS also published the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting Programs on Thursday.

That rule increases some outpatient payments, brings reductions in 340B drug payments, and does not propose changing the meaningful use Stage 3 reporting requirements slated to begin on Jan. 1, 2018.

Deep in the OPPS rule CMS also includes a request for information on flexibilities and efficiencies.

“We aim to increase quality of care, lower costs, improve program integrity, and make the health care system more effective, simple, and accessible.

We would like to invite the public to submit their ideas for regulatory, subregulatory, policy, practice, and procedural changes to better accomplish these goals,” the rule states. “Ideas could include payment system redesign, elimination or streamlining of reporting, monitoring and documentation requirements, aligning Medicare requirements and processes with those of Medicaid and other payers, operational flexibility, feedback mechanisms and data sharing that would enhance patient care, support of the physician-patient relationship, and facilitation of individual preferences.”

CMS is accepting public comments on both rules until September 11, 2017.

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