Lawmakers, agencies ink telehealth rules while they consider its place in healthcare: 4 things to know

While lawmakers and government regulators continue to consider the effects virtual care standards have on patients, recent moves at the federal and state levels give a glimpse into where telehealth might be headed, according to a Nov. 18 report in JD Supra, a company that provides legal information.

The report, written by members of the law firm Epstein Becker & Green, compiled federal and state-level regulatory requirements for virtual care.

Four things to know:

  1. CMS published on Nov. 19 the Final Physician Fee Schedule Rule that extends certain virtual services through Dec. 31, 2023. CMS said Nov. 2 that the regulation will allow additional time for it to determine whether these services should make it to the permanent telehealth list.

  2. The Office of the Inspector General released an October study that analyzed the flexibilities the public health emergency order brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has given providers to provide lawmakers with data as they consider telehealth's place in healthcare. The OIG found that 84 percent of Medicare beneficiaries conducted virtual visits only after having an established relationship with their provider. Patients saw their provider for about four months before meeting virtually, the report found.

  3. States granted a variety of flexibility to support telehealth use at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some states have ended their emergency orders and the telehealth offerings that came with it while other states have permanently expanded their telehealth regulations.

  4. Iowa is among the most recent states to provide virtual care standards for clinicians, JD Supra reported Oct. 6. The state introduced regulations that include technology requirements and practices to safeguard patient privacy as well as an informed consent process prior to the telehealth appointment.

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