Telehealth is an innovative technology initiative that is bound to change healthcare. Its regulations are changing fast! In an effort to boost participation and reduce healthcare costs CMS is revising the requirements for Medicare Advantage (MA) Beneficiaries.
The Progression of Telehealth
In 2018 and previous years, Medicare patients only qualified for Telehealth if they are considered to live in a rural area. Now, Medicare has begun reimbursing providers for performing “virtual check-ins” nation-wide, allowing patients to connect to doctors via phone or video conference. Currently, however, beneficiaries have to go to a healthcare facility to receive the services; they cannot be performed in the patient’s home.
The New Policy
Friday, April 5th, 2019, CMS finalized a new policy to allow for expanded benefits for MA patients. In the final rule, CMS allows more MA beneficiaries to utilize Telehealth services. Beginning in 2020, beneficiaries will be able to receive healthcare services from their home or other suitable location, removing the current restriction that the patient must be within a healthcare facility. These new changes should increase the availability of Telehealth services to all MA beneficiaries and make the programs more feasible for providers. These new policies come as CMS works towards improving Medicare Advantage and Part D programs.
A word from the CMS Administrator
This is what CMS Administrator Seema Verma had to say about the new policies, “Today’s policies represent a historic step in bringing innovative technology to Medicare beneficiaries. With these new Telehealth benefits, Medicare Advantage enrollees will be able to access the latest technology and have greater access to Telehealth. By providing greater flexibility to Medicare Advantage plans, beneficiaries can receive more benefits, at lower costs and better quality.”
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