CMS adds 60+ services to Medicare's telehealth list in final rule: 7 details

CMS released the 2021 physician fee schedule Dec. 1 with expanded telehealth services.

Seven takeaways on telehealth:

1. CMS added more than 60 services to the Medicare telehealth list. 

2. The agency finalized a third temporary category of criteria for adding to the Medicare telehealth list during the pandemic. Those services will stay on the Medicare telehealth list through the end of the calendar year when the public health emergency related to COVID-19 ends.

3. CMS added 12 services to the Medicare telehealth list on a Category 3 basis, including emergency department visits, therapy services and hospital discharge day management.

4. The final rule sets a limit for nursing facility telehealth visits of one visit every 14 days.

5. CMS established two new Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System codes for licensed clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapies and speech-language pathologists to provide telehealth services. The agency also clarified they can provide brief online assessments and management services as well as virtual check-ins and remote evaluation.

6. The final rule clarified telehealth rules don't apply if the clinician and patient are in the same location during virtual visits to limit COVID-19 exposure.

7. CMS established a separate payment for audio-only services in the March 31, 2020, COVID-19 interim final rule. The agency didn't propose to continue those codes in the physician fee schedule after the pandemic, but did establish payment on an interim final basis for a new HCPCS G-code for a medical discussion to determine whether an in-person visit was necessary.

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