CARES Act Telehealth Policies May be Extended Permanently with New Bill
In March of this year, the coronavirus prompted a legislative response to make care mor...
Telehealth coverage is expanding yet again for Medicare Advantage plans enabling eligible patients to visit with even more specialists online. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a rule the aims to increase the use of telehealth among its rural and chronically ill beneficiaries. These rapid changes being set in place by CMS have proven extremely useful during the coronavirus pandemic, helping more and more patients receive a wide range of healthcare services from the safety of their own homes. These changes have brought an impact on how Medicare Advantage patients receive important care and will have a lasting impact on the future use of telehealth.
The Elimination of Telehealth Barriers:
Largely in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, CMS started expanding telehealth coverage in early March, enabling patients to continue receiving the care they depend on from the comfort and safety of their homes. As the initial emergency programs proved useful, CMS continued expanding coverage to an additional 80 tele-services from specialists, covering patients under chronic care management and protecting seniors. As of May 22, 2020, this coverage has expanded to now cover services including dermatology, psychiatry, cardiology, ophthalmology, and primary care.
As new developments in the coronavirus continue to unfold, congress continues to add to the list of services that are covered for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. As seniors across the United States fall into the high-risk category of patients amidst COVID-19, telehealth eliminates barriers to care, allowing them to still receive the frequent medical attention they need while avoiding high-risk medical facilities.
Continued Use Among Seniors:
While telehealth use has boomed in response to the pandemic, the tool itself has been around for several years now. Seniors were among the lowest recorded number of telehealth users, but have had to engage with their providers on this platform as the coronavirus still runs rapidly. The use of new technology is notoriously uninteresting to many seniors in the United States who wish to continue meeting with their providers in person.
The rapid implementation of this tool has led to many US seniors and Medicare Advantage patients using telehealth for the very first time. What they are discovering is that telehealth offers patients the flexibility, accessibility, and usability they need to engage with their providers. While the spike in COVID-positive cases has many seniors stuck inside, adhering to social distancing guidelines, it is expected that many seniors will continue to use a telehealth solution even after the pandemic is over.
Expanded Coverage Across the Board:
While CMS has led the charge in the rapid implementation and use of this tool throughout the pandemic, many more patients are using it to their advantage. Private insurers have followed suit and expanded coverage for telehealth for patients to promote safe care and social distancing. As the importance, relevance, and usability of telehealth continues to reveal itself across the medical community, coverage for this tool is expected to continue expanding across the board, not just under Medicare Advantage Plans.
Implementing a quality telehealth solution at your practice is not only going to help you Medicare Advantage patients to continue meeting with their providers and specialists throughout the pandemic but as coverage continues to expand across every payer, your practice will continue to grow with it. To learn more about a quality telehealth solution that can help your practice, click here.