Question: Can clinicians conduct visits via telehealth and these covered by Medicare?
Answer: Both home health and hospice providers are able to communicate with patients via telehealth; HOWEVER, CMS has not indicated these communications will qualify as visits and be considered covered under Medicare. There are two recent waivers which are applicable – one regarding expanded Medicare telehealth coverage and one regarding HIPAA. Please see below for these additional details.
The Trump Administration announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage. Beginning on March 6, 2020, Medicare will temporarily pay practitioners to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country. There are a lot of questions from home health and hospice providers about this announcement. Below is a summary of the key points as well as a link to a Fact Sheet and an FAQ document:
- Still, only practitioners can bill for telehealth services.
- Home health agencies, while not being able to bill for telehealth services, may find relief in that the physicians can utilize telehealth technology for a home health F2F encounter.
- Hospices – We have been in touch with CMS and understand that they are still thinking the issue through, but we have encouraged them (and some of our advocates in Congress) to permit this same flexibility for hospice providers.
- Telehealth technology has been expanded. The FAQ below describes the various technology that will be allowed during this state of emergency (emphasis added).