Medicare and Medicaid policies
Federal COVID-19 waivers and regulatory changes now make it easier for providers to deliver telehealth services to Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Medicare telehealth waivers
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a number of COVID-19 flexibilities and waivers during the public health emergency.
Health care providers may offer telehealth services to patients located in their homes and outside of designated rural areas.
For the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will reimburse telehealth visits in lieu of many in-person appointments.
Practicing across state lines
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a waiver allowing health care providers to furnish telehealth and other services using communications technology wherever the patient is located, including at home, even across state lines.
However, practicing across state lines is subject to requirements set by the states involved. For information about state-level policies and interstate agreements, see telehealth licensing requirements and interstate compacts.
Relationship between patient and provider
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, health care providers may see both new and established patients for telehealth and other visits furnished using communications technology.
Types of telehealth services covered
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services significantly expanded the list of services that can be provided by telehealth during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Some types of telehealth services no longer require both audio and video — visits can be conducted over the telephone.
For details see this list of telehealth services.
Types of eligible providers
Generally, any provider who is eligible to bill Medicare for their professional services is eligible to bill for telehealth during this period.
Supervision of health care providers
Health care providers may supervise services through audio and video communication, instead of only in-person.
For additional details about these policies, see:
- Medicare Coverage and Payment of Virtual Services (video) — from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- COVID-19 Telehealth Coverage Policies — from the National Policy Center - Center for Connected Health Policy
- List of Telehealth Services (covered for COVID-19) — from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
For billing related information, see billing and coding Medicare Fee-for-Service claims.
Safety-net provider policies
Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics can provide telehealth services to patients wherever they are located — including in their homes — for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This includes coverage for certain audio-only telephone evaluation and management services.
For more information, refer to:
- Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs): CMS Flexibilities to Fight COVID-19 (PDF) — from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Read more about billing Medicare as a safety-net provider.
Federal cost-sharing waivers
Health care providers won’t face administrative sanctions for reducing or waiving cost-sharing obligations for telehealth services paid for by federal or state health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.