Take Advantage of Telehealth Coverage Extensions Until December 2024
The healthcare landscape has been ever-evolving, prompting positive changes since the global pandemic. Due to the unprecedented circumstances and shifting landscape, doctors across the United States have had to make extra efforts to ensure their patients are receiving adequate care while adhering to social distancing guidelines. While the Public Health Emergency ends May 11, 2023, some temporary provisions for telehealth will carry on under the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) 2023 through December 31, 2024. It’s essential that your healthcare practice understands how Medicare beneficiaries are affected and how the exclusions can impact your business and patients.
The extended temporary changes to the Medicare system are intended to make it easier for senior citizens, those with disabilities and anyone else receiving Medicare benefits from qualifying providers to continue care virtually. Here are key extensions:
Health care providers can bill Medicare for virtual visits regardless of the patient or provider's location. This includes audio-only visits reimbursement. This cost-effective alternative to in-person appointments also expands eligibility to include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and audiologists - empowering medical professionals to deliver quality care without interruption.
Provision of access to acute hospital services at home via telehealth visits in order to keep vulnerable populations safe while receiving necessary medical treatments.
With hospice care, telehealth can allow recertification to be conducted with ease.
Patients on High Deductible Health Plans who also qualify under a Health Savings Account do not have to have their deductible met first before utilizing saved dollars for utilizing telehealth services.
Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) may provide remote-site virtual services to Medicare beneficiaries without the burden of being located where their patient is located.
New patient mental health in person service visit before delivery of telehealth mental health services is delayed until the end of 2024.
Despite the pandemic's hardships, Medicare has offered a bright spot by paying higher reimbursement rates for telehealth services outside of traditional healthcare facilities - including patients' homes. However, this provider benefit is set to expire unless lawmakers decide to extend it and keep these elevated payments in place.
During the Public Health Emergency (PHE), health care providers would not be subject to legal penalties for decreasing or waiving copays or deductibles associated with telehealth services, as well remote patient monitoring before May 11th - marking an unprecedented expense relief offered to Medicare beneficiaries. However, with this date fast approaching and no extension yet provided, healthcare providers will have to readjust workflow processes and potentially technology systems to accurately collect patient costs should these fees become collectible again.
As the end of the public health emergency approaches, it is essential that healthcare businesses stay abreast of any potential adjustments to flexibilities, extensions, and other coverage changes. To ensure ongoing patient care and prevent issues with inadequate treatment, work with your technology vendors sooner rather than later to meet all necessary regulations before the PHE expires in May. Time is of the essence - failure to comply could have serious consequences for your patients' wellbeing. Click here for Medicare telehealth guidelines.
Whether an ambulance transportation, physician practice or other professional fee healthcare provider, reach out to us at RMK for a free consult.