Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shared a
yesterday, announcing new broadened access to Medicare telehealth services on a temporary basis in response to the
COVID-19, or Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019, Pandemic.
Highlights in the Announcement
- Under this new waiver, Medicare can pay for office, hospital, and other visits furnished via telehealth across the country and including in patient's places of residence starting March 6, 2020.
- There are three main types of virtual services physicians and other professionals can provide to Medicare beneficiaries summarized in this fact sheet: Medicare telehealth visits, virtual check-ins and e-visits.
- Effective immediately, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will exercise enforcement discretion and waive penalties for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations against health care providers that serve patients in good faith through everyday communications technologies, such as FaceTime or Skype, during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.
Key Points for Nursing Homes - For Medicare
- Under the new waiver, limitations on where Medicare patients are eligible for telehealth will be removed during the emergency. In particular, patients outside of rural areas, and patients in their homes will now be eligible for telehealth services, effective for services starting March 6, 2020.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will not conduct audits to ensure that such a prior provider relationship existed for claims submitted during this public health emergency.
- Nursing Homes are eligible to bill for the originating site facility fee, which is reported under Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code Q301.
- Qualified providers should inform their patients that services are available via telehealth.
- Telehealth services are not limited to services related to patients with COVID-19.
Key Points for Nursing Homes - For Medicaid
- States have broad flexibility to cover telehealth through Medicaid. No federal approval is needed for state Medicaid programs to reimburse providers for telehealth services in the same manner or at the same rate that states pay for face-to-face services. More information is available here.
- We will share more as we learn more about telehealth from our states' health departments.