House of Representatives Passes Bill to Extend Medicare Telehealth Flexibility Through 2024
Last week, the House of Representatives passed an act to extend Medicare telehealth flexibilities after the conclusion of the Public Health Emergency (“PHE”). The “Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID–19 Act of 2022” (“Act”) aims to extend flexibilities through 2024 which would have otherwise expired 151 days after the end of the PHE.
If the Act is approved by the Senate, flexibilities will be extended for
- the removal of geographic requirements and expansion of originating sites,
- expanding practitioners eligible to furnish telehealth services,
- telehealth services for federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics,
- delayed in-person requirements under Medicare for mental health services furnished through telehealth,
- audio-only telehealth, and
- the use of telehealth to recertify hospice eligibility.
These changes come only a few weeks after CMS’ proposed 2023 Physician Fee Schedule indicated an intent to discontinue audio-only evaluation and management services, other than for mental health care, after the conclusion of the 151-day extension beyond the PHE. The addition of reimbursable audio-only services was a significant flexibility added to accommodate the PHE. Previously, telehealth provided to Medicare beneficiaries required two-way, audio-video communications. In CMS’ recent proposed fee schedule, it clarified that two-way, audio-video communication technology would continue to be the applicable standard for Medicare telehealth services rendered after the PHE extension period ends, other than for mental health services.
The changes contemplated by the Act as compared to the proposed Physician Fee Schedule reinforce the importance that health care providers remain properly informed of the current status of regulations and billing requirements to remain industry compliant.
How Frier Levitt Can Help
Frier Levitt continues to monitor proposed legislation and regulations related to telehealth. Frier Levitt attorneys have advised relevant stakeholders on methods to develop and restructure telehealth business models to comply with applicable laws while considering obstacles such as insurance reimbursement concerns unique to each arrangement. If you or your company has questions regarding a telehealth venture, contact us to speak to an attorney who can comprehensively evaluate and recommend a compliant, sustainable model.