The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the extension of the public health emergency for COVID-19 for 90 days, extending it from Oct. 23, 2020, through Jan. 20, 2021. This means all of the waivers and other allowances that spurred rapid growth of telehealth will remain until early next year, allowing more time for the pending telehealth legislation, which aims to make many of these temporary changes permanent, to make its way through Congress.
In other telehealth news, CMS has expanded the list of telehealth services paid for by Medicare FFS during the public health emergency. These specialized 11 new telehealth codes include:
- 95970-95972, 95983, 95984: Electronic analysis of implanted neurostimulator pulse generator/transmitter
- 93797, 93798, G0422-G0423: Intensive cardiac rehabilitation
- 93750: Interrogation of ventricular assist device
With the addition of these 11 codes, Medicare now pays for 144 telehealth services performed via telehealth (see Oct. 14, 2020, CMS press release). See the full, expanded CMS list of telehealth service codes here.
CMS has also released the first snapshot of telehealth use in Medicaid and CHIP programs during the public health emergency. The snapshot found that:
- More than 34.5 million services were delivered via telehealth to Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries between March and June 2020, which was an increase of over 2,600% when compared to the same period in 2019.
- Working-age adults (ages 19–64) received the most services via telehealth during March-June 2020, with the peak in April. Numbers of services delivered via telehealth varied greatly state to state.
See the snapshot here.
In addition, CMS released a 66-page supplement to the State Medicaid and CHIP Telehealth Toolkit: Policy Considerations for States Expanding Use of Telehealth, COVID-19 version.
The supplement contains an updated resource list, FAQs, telehealth tools and information on how telehealth has been working in various states. The supplement includes telehealth profiles on five states: Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts and Wisconsin.