[co-author: Michael Lisitano]*
On October 14, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded the list of telehealth services covered by Medicare during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. CMS also announced it would be providing additional support to state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies in delivering telehealth services. CMS added the telehealth services using, for the first time, an expedited process that does not involve rulemaking which had been established by CMS in May 2020.
I. Medicare Telehealth Coverage
During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, CMS has been increasing the number of telehealth services for which Medicare will provide payment. This expansion adds 11 new services to the list bringing the total to 144 services (a list of all covered telehealth services is available here). The new covered services include certain cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services and neurostimulator analysis and programming services. CMS announced it will begin paying for these services furnished via telehealth immediately and will continue for the duration of the Public Health Emergency.
II. Medicaid and CHIP Telehealth Utilization Support
To help further states’ telehealth implementation, CMS released a supplement to its State Medicaid & CHIP Telehealth Toolkit. The supplement is focused on helping states communicate which COVID-19 telehealth policies are temporary and which are permanent and aid in identifying more services capable of telehealth delivery. CMS also released a “Medicaid and CHIP Data Snapshot” to provide transparency and information about telehealth utilization in state programs.
These releases by CMS continue a trend of focus on telehealth services during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.