On March 17, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the expansion of Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of health care services from clinical professionals without having to travel to a health care facility. As of March 6, 2020, Medicare will temporarily pay professionals to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country. This change broadens telehealth flexibility to ensure beneficiaries are following guidance from the CDC including practicing social distancing to reduce the risk of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) transmission.
On March 13, 2020, President Trump announced an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act. Consistent with President Trump’s emergency declaration, CMS is expanding Medicare’s telehealth benefits under the 1135 waiver authority and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. This guidance and other recent actions by CMS provide regulatory flexibility to ensure that all Americans—particularly high-risk individuals—are aware of easy-to-use, accessible benefits that can help keep them healthy while helping to contain the spread of COVID-19.
A range of health care professionals, such as physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, will be able to offer telehealth to Medicare beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will be able to receive telehealth services in any health care facility including a physician’s office, hospital, nursing home, or rural health clinic, as well as from their homes. Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive various services through telehealth including common office visits, mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings. This change broadens telehealth flexibility to ensure beneficiaries are following guidance from the CDC including practicing social distancing to reduce the risk of transmission.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. CMS administers the Medicare program and works in partnership with state governments to administer Medicaid and other health insurance programs.
A link to the full text of Frequently Asked Questions on this announcement may be found in the OPEN MINDS Circle Library: Medicare Telehealth Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). For additional guidance, see the Medicare Telemedicine Health Care Provider Fact Sheet.
This was reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on March 17, 2020.
Contact information: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244; 202-690-6145; Website: www.cms.gov