Congress set to add 151 days of telehealth coverage

Congress is set to grant a five-month extension to telehealth flexibilities, created during the pandemic, as part of the 2022 omnibus spending bill made public March 9.

The $1.5 trillion omnibus legislation, which would set spending levels for defense and nondefense spending for fiscal 2022, would also extend the telehealth federal public health emergency, which is set to expire in April, until Sept. 14. 

The extension would permit the following telehealth flexibilities to continue:

  • Medicare would cover the cost of telehealth visits, including some audio-only visits, for adults 65 and older.

  • The bill will allow all Medicare-enrolled providers to bill for telehealth services.

  • Medicare will cover all telehealth visits that take place in a patients' home and in medical facilities.

  • The bill would postpone the requirement that older adults, who seek virtual mental health services, must have an in-person visit six months after receiving a telehealth visit.

The bill also expands practitioners eligible to provide telehealth services to include occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists and audiologists. 

The telehealth accommodations extended by the omnibus spending bill will be voted on by the House on March 9 and will be sent to the Senate on March 11. 

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