Telehealth Changes

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JUNE 2020

Telehealth Changes

On April 30, the American Medical Association advised organizations that had joined forces to communicate with regulators regarding their patients’ telehealth needs that “the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced … that they will be increasing payments for audio-only telephone visits between Medicare beneficiaries and their physicians to match payments for similar office and outpatient visits. This would increase payments for these services from a range of about $14-$41 to about $46-$110, and the payments are retroactive to March 1, 2020.

The message continued that “This is a major victory for medicine that will enable physicians to care for their patients, especially their elderly patients with chronic conditions who may not have access to audio-visual technology or high-speed Internet.”

The American Medical Association and the Federation also worked with Senator Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Senators Shaheen (D-NH), Manchin (D-WV), and Moran (R-KS) to spearhead the letter to HHS Secretary Azar and CMS Administrator Verma on the same topic. The letter sent on April 29 had 37 signers and included the following requests:

  • Increase Medicare payment rates for telephone-based evaluation and management (E/M) codes (99441-99443) to bring payments for these codes equal to Medicare’s established in person visit codes (99212-99214) that will ensure that patients without advanced video-sharing capabilities are able to get care virtually, while helping to sustain physician practices.
  • Immediately provide guidance to Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to ensure that recent CMS guidance and rules are followed appropriately to enable the payment of telephone E/M claims.
  • Provide Members of Congress with a briefing on CMS efforts to address this issue by May 8, 2020.

In related activities, the American Thoracic Society and CHEST sent a joint letter requesting an extension to CMS’s telehealth policy to include vent management and pulmonary/cardiac rehab as well stating explicitly that home infusion waivers apply to patients with alpha-1.


Introduction to the New Health Policy and Advocacy Committee

Home Mechanical Ventilators’ Removal from Competitive Bidding 2021 Represents a Big Win for Respiratory Patients

CHEST’s Cooperative Involvement Related to COVID-19

Support for Healthcare Infrastructure and Accessibility

Telehealth Changes

CHEST Responds to Need for Clinicians in Hard-hit Areas with Unique Matching System

Government Actions of Note to CHEST Members