At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expanded Medicare coverage for telehealth nationwide, as discussed here. The $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Biden today extended the current telehealth accommodations for 151 days after the end of the federal public health emergency, which is currently set to expire in April but will likely be extended until July.
The telehealth flexibilities extended by the bill allow Medicare coverage for telehealth visits for all patients who are 65 and older, including some audio-only visits, regardless of where the patient lives. Before the pandemic, Medicare reimbursed telehealth services only for patients in rural areas. The expanded coverage permits telehealth visits from the patient’s home as well as from medical facilities. Also, originally not all practitioners’ services were covered, but currently all Medicare-enrolled providers can bill for telehealth services.
The bill also delays the requirement that Medicare beneficiaries who obtain behavioral health care via telehealth have an in-person visit within six months of the virtual visit.
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