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Telehealth policy updates

Federal legislation continues to expand and extend telehealth services for rural health, behavioral health, and telehealth access options, including from the home and audio-only for Medicare beneficiaries, beyond the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The Administration’s plan is to end the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023.

Rural health

Many of the telehealth flexibilities for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are extended until December 31, 2024 under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023.

Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs) were added as eligible Medicare originating sites for telehealth. This allows patients to be located at an REH when receiving telehealth services. The REH needs to meet the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) “rural” classification to bill Medicare as an originating site.

Sources: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (PDF), Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (PDF)

Behavioral health

Medicare patients can receive telehealth services for behavioral health care in their homes in any part of the country. This includes most behavioral health services, such as counseling, psychotherapy, and psychiatric evaluations.

The in-person visit requirements before a patient may be eligible for telebehavioral health care services is delayed through December 31, 2024.

Sources: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (PDF), Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 (PDF), Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (PDF)

Extensions of telehealth access options

Medicare beneficiaries

Many of the telehealth flexibility waivers are extended, including geographic and originating site restrictions so that Medicare patients can continue to use telehealth services from their home and allowing audio-only telehealth services through December 31, 2024.

Additionally, the list of providers eligible to deliver telehealth services is expanded so that Medicare beneficiaries can continue to receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech language sessions via telehealth through December 31, 2024.

First dollar coverage for telehealth services

Patients with High Deductible Health Plans coupled with Health Savings Accounts may utilize first dollar coverage for telehealth services without first having to meet their minimum deductible.

Hospice care

Telehealth can be used to conduct recertification of eligibility for hospice care through December 31, 2024.

Acute hospital care at home

The Acute Hospital Care at Home Program has been extended to December 31, 2024. This program heavily relies on telehealth services for hospitals to furnish inpatient services, including routine services, outside the hospital.

Sources: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (PDF), Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 (PDF)

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