Guest Author: Amy Ballance
CMS has temporarily expanded Medicare coverage for telehealth services as part of the President’s emergency declaration to ensure that all Americans can maintain access to healthcare. Now is the time that a physician practice should consider how telehealth will benefit their patients, staff, and business. Physician liaisons deliver value to providers in so many different ways, and this is one. You can bring or send helpful updates on the expanded coverage and rules emerging during this crisis.
These telehealth policy changes come at a time when we must take precautions to manage unnecessary exposure to those who may be vulnerable during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We are so appreciative of the physicians, midlevel providers, nurses and other direct caregivers who are sacrificing their families’ needs for the greater good, but we want our healthcare resources to work smarter not harder!
Here is a link to the CMS website that explains the telehealth coverage changes further:
It includes a Summary Fact Sheet that can be modified as a leave behind or emailed to your physician partners with a note they can quickly review and share during their busy day.
Below is a brief summary of the expansion of coverage:
According to the CMS website, the 1135 waiver will expand Medicare coverage to “pay for office, hospital, and other visits furnished via telehealth across the country”, including a patient’s place of residence. This went into effect March 6, 2020. Prior to this, Medicare would reimburse for telehealth services when the patient was in a designated rural area and they had to go to a specific location such as a clinic, hospital or other medical facility.
Now, a patient can connect with a provider from their home via video and Medicare will cover the services at the same level as in-person visits.
While this Medicare expansion of coverage for telehealth services is for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, we believe that government and payers will find value in increasing access to care via telehealth, and perhaps make it part of the permanent CMS coverage.
Remember that providers are being inundated.
When you have important information like this to share, “be brief, be brilliant and be gone!” But, remember to follow-up to see how your hospital can assist them in implementing or stepping up their telehealth capabilities.
Amy Ballance is a healthcare executive with years of proven servant leadership, strategic direction and change management. She has extensive experience leading large teams to accomplish common goals. Tiller-Hewitt Healthcare Strategies was privileged to work with Amy and her team in her most recent role as Division Vice President, Business Development and Strategy with Hospital Sisters Health System. Amy was responsible for strategic planning, marketing and facilities for the five HSHS Southern Illinois Division hospitals and healthcare services. She also served as Interim President and CEO of HSHS St. Joseph’s-Breese and led the integration of Holy Family Hospital into HSHS. Amy also has been responsible for coordination and implementation of physician growth and market share initiatives for these hospitals. Amy earned a Master of Health Administration from Saint Louis University School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in Biology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.