Navigating a New World of Telemedicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold in the United States, reaching record levels of transmission and fatalities, our health care system must adapt to care for patients who need to receive non-critical care while maintaining safety of the patient and physician and lessening the overall burdens being felt by the industry. One of the emerging trends is the use of telemedicine, which allows practitioners to provide clinical care and diagnosis to patients remotely, through the use of telephone, video, or “portals” that allow communication between the patient and provider without the necessity for in-person encounters. Telemedicine provides numerous benefits to both the patient and the providers. The health care group at Nason, Yeager, Gerson, Harris, & Fumero, P.A. advises numerous individual physicians and medical practices. We understand that individual providers and group practices will have to adapt quickly to integrate telemedicine into their practices to meet patients’ needs. We also understand that navigating the new world of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic is not easy. Therefore, we have cited below a resource from CMS that providers can reference to assist them during this time.
CMS MEDICARE TELEMEDICINE HEALTH CARE PROVIDER FACT SHEET (March 17, 2020)
· Effective for services starting March 6, 2020 and for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, Medicare will make payment for Medicare telehealth services furnished to patients in broader circumstances.
· These visits are considered the same as in-person visits and are paid at the same rate as regular, in-person visits.
· Starting March 6, 2020 and for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, Medicare will make payment for professional services furnished to beneficiaries in all areas of the country in all settings.
· While they must generally travel to or be located in certain types of originating sites such as a physician’s office, skilled nursing facility or hospital for the visit, effective for services starting March 6, 2020 and for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, Medicare will make payment for Medicare telehealth services furnished to beneficiaries in any healthcare facility and in their home.
· The Medicare coinsurance and deductible would generally apply to these services. However, the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) is providing flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal healthcare programs.
· To the extent the 1135 waiver requires an established relationship, HHS will not conduct audits to ensure that such a prior relationship existed for claims submitted during this public health emergency.
If you have any questions about telemedicine health care laws or other legal implications of COVID-19 for you or your business, please contact the Nason Yeager team. We are here to help in navigating through these difficult and unprecedented times.