CMS Finalizes Permanent Changes for Certain Telehealth Services Modified During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
On December 1, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released the annual Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule (“Final Rule”). Among other things, the Final Rule:
- Makes permanent certain changes that CMS had put in place since the declaration of the public health emergency for the COVID-19 global pandemic (“PHE”) that modified coverage of telehealth services in the Medicare program;
- Adds certain services permanently to the list of telehealth services covered by Medicare (“Medicare Telehealth Services List”);
- Reduces, on a permanent basis, frequency limitations on nursing facility services delivered through telehealth;
- Removes an outdated and, due to the existence of smartphones, confusing reference to “telephones” in the definition of interactive telecommunications system;
- Makes permanent certain flexibilities that CMS had granted during the PHE related to remote monitoring care management services and virtual Communication Technology-Based Services (“CTBS”) based on CMS’ determination that these are not considered telehealth services; and
- Clarifies several payment policies related to remote physiologic monitoring (“RPM”) services.
The Final Rule’s regulations became effective on January 1, 2021, though select policies will be applicable retroactive to January 1, 2020, or from the start of the PHE on January 27, 2020. For a discussion of the proposed rule and prior modifications to telehealth services during the PHE, please see Ropes & Gray’s prior Alert.
This Alert summarizes key telehealth changes made by the Final Rule, and includes a table for quick reference.