Permanent Medicare Reimbursement for Telehealth Strengthens

As COVID-19 starts to slow down, the congressional focus has shifted to permanently expanding telehealth access, with the discussion starting around payment, timing, and which flexibilities should be retained after the COVID-19 public health emergency expires. As conversations continue, we highlighted key information to help predict telehealth in 2021.

  • Legislators’ biggest concern is that greater telehealth availability could inject more cost into the system through overuse. Additional data is being requested to perform studies on the cost-effectiveness of telehealth.
  • A strong concern around the ease to conduct fraud if telehealth is growing.
  • Member of the House subcommittee agreed audio-only telehealth should continue to be allowed post-pandemic, calling it a lifeline in rural or low-income communities.
  • Support for re-instituting stricter HIPAA restrictions, meaning post-emergency physicians would no longer be able to treat their patients over a broader array of platforms like Skype and Facetime.

The main focus on Capitol Hill is the COVID-19 relief package, but with the temporary fee-for-service Medicare set to expire in April, we should expect more traction in late March.