Last week a presentation from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) surfaced, presenting policy options for expanding telehealth in Medicare. MEDPAC is a nonpartisan legislative branch agency that provides the US Congress with analysis and policy advice on the Medicare program. The presentation starts by putting the current telehealth policy environment into perspective, with bullet points on how providers have rapidly adopted telehealth during the public health emergency (PHE), and how health advocates assert that telehealth can expand access to care and reduce costs. However, on the flip side telehealth has been recently implicated in fraud cases and current evidence on how telehealth services impact quality of care is limited and mixed, according to the slides. The policy options for permanent telehealth expansions made in the presentation were at least partially based on focus groups with beneficiaries and clinicians conducted throughout the summer, and focus on telehealth expansions for fee-for-service (FFS) clinicians only after the PHE.
MEDPAC presents the following policy options, along with the rationale behind the policy option being presented on each slide:
Other safeguards that could protect Medicare and beneficiaries from unnecessary spending and potential fraud include:
These are only policy options presented by MEDPAC, and not necessarily Medicare’s policy moving forward. For more details, see the full presentation. To see what Medicare has outlined in their 2021 proposed Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), see CCHP’s factsheet and the PFS full text, and stay tuned for the final fee schedule expected to be released in the coming weeks.