The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act

On July 28, 2022, The House of Representatives voted 416-12 to pass the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act, legislation that would continue Medicare patient access to telehealth services, including audio-only services, through 2024. The telehealth extension bill will allow telehealth visits to be covered after the public health emergency (PHE) ends.

The PHE was originally declared in January 2020 and has been extended numerous times since its activation. The PHE is currently scheduled to end on October 13, 2022 (https://aspr.hhs.gov/legal/PHE/Pages/covid19-15jul2022.aspx) but could be renewed for another 90 days. At the time of this article’s writing, it is unclear if the PHE will be renewed for another 90 days; however, in the omnibus spending bill passed this past March, Congress granted a five-month (151 days) extension to telehealth waivers created during the pandemic. The 151-day extension would begin at the end of the public health emergency (PHE). 

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According to the bill, the Act provides flexibility beyond the 151 days and ensures the following telehealth services and coverage continue through December 31, 2024:

       Payment for certain telehealth visits, including some audio-only visits

       Allowing all all Medicare-enrolled providers to bill for telehealth services

       Extending originating site and geographic restriction flexibilities

       Delay of in-person requirements for virtual mental health services for Medicare patients until 152 days after the expiration of the PHE

       Expansion of practitioners eligible to provide telehealth services to include occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, and qualified audiologists

       Temporary payment policies for rural health clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)

 

TOPIC

FLEXIBILITY

EXPIRATION DATE

MEDICARE
TELEHEALTH

Originating site and geographic restrictions

151 days after declared end of the COVID-19 PHE

Qualifying providers eligible to furnish telehealth

Coverage of audio-only services

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) furnishing telehealth

Behavioral and mental health in-person requirements

Waived HIPAA penalties for technology used to furnish telehealth

Expiration of PHE

State licensure requirements to furnish telehealth in other states

State specific; some currently expired, others tied to expiration of PHE

 

Courtesy of MGMA August 2022, Government Affairs (Source)
 

As of this writing, a vote is still pending in the U.S. Senate to get the bill to President Biden’s desk for this signature.

If you are not currently using telehealth and are interested in learning more, please contact Andie Tena, Director of Practice Management Services at CAP, ATena@CAPphysicians.com, 213-473-8630 or visit https://telehealth.hhs.gov/  

 

Andie Tena is CAP’s Director of Practice Management Services. Questions or comments related to this column should be directed to ATena@CAPphysicians.com.