CMS Issues Additional Waivers
& Billing Guidance
May 1, 2020

As the month of April wound down yesterday, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services ( CMS ) took further strides to expand Telehealth Services in response to needed care during the COVID-19 Pandemic, as they explained in the newly updated & re-released
COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers FAQ Document & Provider Specific Information Fact Sheets. H ere are some of the key changes that allow for significant expansion of telehealth utilization:

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), CMS will now allow all health care professionals that are eligible to bill Medicare to be reimbursed for telehealth-delivered services , including physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists.
Among other topics, the new waivers also include further expansions or clarifications on:
-Permissible Audio Only Encounters (Including FQHCs and RHCs)
-Originating Site Fees for hospitals when patients are at home,
-New and expedited process of reviewing permissible CPT codes and encounters,
-And More!

Keep reading for an outline of some information covered in the new updates, or click the links above (or the image to the right) to access the CMS documentation.
CMS Provider Eligibility & Modality Expansions
Provider Eligibility
Per the 4/30 press release and updated documentation, all healthcare professionals that are eligible to to bill Medicare will be allowed to be reimbursed for telehealth-delivered services for the remainder of the PHE.

Earlier guidance and expansion of telehealth possibilities during the COVID-19 PHE had only applied to providers previously determined to be eligible to bill Medicare for Telehealth encounters.

Audio Only Encounters
CMS announced they are also waiving the requirement of video technology use for a certain set of services for the remainder of the PHE, and increasing the payment amount for telephone visits to match payments for similar office and outpatient visits.

This waiver only applies to codes for audio-only telephone evaluation and management services and behavioral health counseling and education services; For a complete list of these codes, see here.

FQHCs and RHCs are eligible for this waiver as well, but should follow their own specific billing requirements to use these codes, which can found here.

Note: Unless explicitly referenced above, other codes still require live video interaction.

Hospital Based Telehealth Services Expansions

The 4/30 press release states that CMS has added Hospitals to the list of locations that qualify for the Originating Site Facility Fee when a Hospital-based provider issues a clinical encounter to a Medicare patient currently under Outpatient care (including patients at home) .

CMS also permitted Hospitals to furnish certain clinical services provided by a Hospital-based provider practicing remotely to Medicare patients registered as hospital outpatients (including those at home).

FCC Funding Opportunity Updates:
Applications Remain Open &
More than $100M still Available!
Hot off the Press: 4th Round of Awardees Announced
Funding Opportunity Background
In Early April 2020, the FCC announced the The COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which will provide $200 million in funding, appropriated by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to help health care providers deliver connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the novel Coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The Program aims to provide immediate support to eligible health care providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by fully funding their telecommunication services, information services, and devices necessary to provide critical connected care services until the program’s funds have been expended or the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. Please note that the COVID-19 Telehealth Program is limited to nonprofit and public eligible health care providers; for more information see here , or click the PDF of the 4/29/20 Press Release on the right.

Fourth Round of Awardees Announced
As referenced above, the FCC has promised to evaluate and award the applications on a rolling basis until the funds are depleted.

April 29th brought the most recent award announcement, with 13 Health Systems being awarded a cumulative 4.2 Million Dollars , bringing the totals to 30 health systems from across the United States receiving approximately 13.7 million dollars worth of funding just two weeks after applications began being accepted!

See here and here for write-ups about the newest systems that were award and their application goals from Healthcare IT News and mHealth Intelligence respectively .
About the NETRC
The Northeast Telehealth Resource Center (a proud member of the  National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers) aims to increase access to quality health care services for rural and medically underserved populations through Telehealth. Our service area includes New England, Northern New Jersey, and New York. Learn more at
NETRC | | 800-379-2021 |
This communication was made possible by grant number G22RH30352 from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, Health Resources and Services Administration, DHHS