CMS approves telehealth reimbursement for ACOs

CMS will allow Medicare to cover telehealth services for ACOs, which extends coverage for telemedicine to many Medicare beneficiaries.

The American Telemedicine Association praised the decision, saying in a news release that the inclusion of telemedicine bears promise for the future of value-based care. The decision was made as a part of the Next Generation ACO model, a new set of standards for ACOs made by CMS, according to the news release.

Under the new decision, Medicare telehealth services can be covered without regard to the previous requirements, which required a beneficiary to live in a rural area and be served at a healthcare facility to qualify. Instead, the new decision extends to 80 percent of Medicare beneficiaries living in cities and from any service originating site, including patients' homes, according to the news release.

"For nearly four years, ATA has urged CMS to waive all the Medicare restrictions for all ACOs," said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of ATA, in the news release. "This is an important change in CMS policy and attitude. We hope it will encourage CMS and Congress to further open up all value-based payment plans to telehealth."

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