Telemedicine in the United States has exploded over the last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey found that more than 60% of Americans had used telehealth, compared to a year earlier when just under 20% had.
This has largely been due to federal policy changes, including non-penalties for HIPAA violations during telehealth visits and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursing providers for telemedicine.
CMS announced that it would permanently cover dozens of telemedicine services that it had initially made available because of the pandemic. This means that the enormous expansion over the past year in telemedicine will become a permanent fixture of the healthcare industry. But while many types of telemedicine popularized by the pandemic are here to stay, many others will go back to the pre-pandemic status quo.
Which types of services will CMS cover post pandemic?
Following the conclusion of the public health emergency (PHE), CMS will continue to
cover medical services including, but not limited to:
- Office visits
- Mental health therapy
- Substance abuse treatment
- Nutritional support
- Obesity management
- Diabetes management
- End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) treatment choices
- Transition care management
Which types of services will CMS stop covering after the pandemic?
Following the conclusion of the PHE, CMS will no longer cover medical services
including, but not limited to:
- Speech therapy
- Physical therapy
- Psychological and neuropsychological testing evaluation services
- Emergency department visits
- Critical care
- Nursing care
- Gait training therapy
- Oral function therapy
- Tinnitus assessment
- Swallowing evaluation
- Eye exam
- Neuromuscular reeducation
- Under radiation treatment management
This is not an exhaustive list. Guidance is available online from CMS, where a full
spreadsheet of services is available for download. This is all also subject to change,
due to a number of factors including how long the pandemic lasts, advances in
technology, and congressional or executive action.
Contact Heather Skelton and John Gibson if you have a question about your
telehealth services and Medicare.