5 federal telehealth actions in 2023

Here is a list of five federal developments related to telehealth since the start of 2023, according to a July 31 report from jdsupra.com:

1. Office of Inspector General Report on improper Medicare payments. 

HHS' OIG released a report in May discussing incorrect payments that were made by Medicare to providers offering psychotherapy services through telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first year of the pandemic, some providers did not meet Medicare requirements when billing for some services provided via telehealth.

2. Drug Enforcement Administration statement on extending telehealth access to Americans in need of controlled medication.

The DEA released a statement in collaboration with HHS on May 3, stating a proposed rule had been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget to extend the telehealth flexibilities for controlled medication prescriptions, which had been established during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

3. OIG toolkit that analyzed telehealth claims to identify potential risks to Medicare. 

The toolkit was published in April and provided information on identifying telehealth claims data that may pose a risk to Medicare, such as fraud, waste and abuse.

4.Two DEA proposed rules on using telemedicine to prescribe controlled substances.

The two proposed rules were released on Feb. 24 to address the process for patients who are prescribed controlled medication via telehealth following the COVID-19 public health emergency. The rules propose new patients must be evaluated in person to receive these medications. Additionally, patients who received these prescriptions through telehealth during the pandemic must have an in-person evaluation within 180 days of the rule's release.

5. CMS guidance on reimbursements for interprofessional consultants. 

The guidance was issued on January 5, and it specified when interpersonal consultants are able to be reimbursed by Medicaid and CHIP. The release clarified reimbursement in cases when the beneficiary is not present, but the consultation must be for the direct benefit of the beneficiary.

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