News: Health systems urge CMS to extend waiver for billing telehealth services to Medicare

CDI Strategies - Volume 17, Issue 48

More than 110 organizations have signed a letter to the CMS asking to extend a waiver which allows providers to bill Medicare for telehealth services delivered from their homes. CMS enacted this waiver during the pandemic, but that waiver is scheduled to end this year. In the letter, it stated that the waiver enables health systems to be more flexible in developing telehealth programs, HealthLeaders reported.

The letter states,

Allowing appropriately licensed and credentialed providers to practice telehealth from their home improves patient access to healthcare services, reduces healthcare costs, while maintaining and meeting patient demand for care. This was necessary during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and remains just as important today amidst provider workforce shortages and burnout, given that 78 percent of health care practitioners agree that retaining the opinion to provide virtual care from a location convenient to the practitioner would ‘significantly reduce the challenges of stress, burnout, or fatigue’ facing their profession and eight in 10 indicate that this flexibility would make them more likely to continue providing medical care.

The letter, addressed to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, asks that two steps be taken:

  1. Permanently continue the waiver that allows provider to bill Medicare for telehealth services delivered from “a location at which the clinician is capable of offering in-person care to patients, even when the practitioner is practicing from a different location such as the home.”
  2. Work with stakeholders to develop an alternative method for determining reimbursable sites for delivering telehealth services that does not require doctors to report their home address. One option could be to allow the reporting of a business address for purposes of enrollment and a zip code or similar geographic indicator for purposes of billing.

The organizations who signed include several large health systems and was supported by the American Telemedicine Association.

Editor’s note: To read HealthLeaders’ coverage of this story, click here. To read the letter to CMS, click here.

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