End the duopoly

Calls mount for CMS to extend telehealth waivers

Adobe Stock Dive Brief:

Influential lobbying group American College of Physicians has asked CMS to extend its current waivers allowing reimbursement for telemedicine services at least until the end of 2021, or when a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19 has been developed. Currently, they are set to expire when the public health emergency passes.

Premier, a major group purchasing organization for hospitals and other providers, went even further, asking that the federal EMTALA law be revised so that patients can be screened remotely before even showing up at a hospital emergency room.

Specifically, ACP wants to remain in place pay parity and cost-sharing waivers for telehealth and audio-only telehealth services; geographical site restriction waivers; and the ability to practice across state lines, among other policies. Premier wants 24 rules in total loosened permanently, many focused on telehealth.

Many providers and patients have apparently not only grown comfortable with the hastily created exemptions for telehealth, but believe it’s the best approach for delivering basic healthcare services until the coronavirus is completely tamed.

It may also be seen as the best chance to ensure those changes, which some telehealth proponents advocated for long before COVID-19 surfaced, become permanent.Earlier this year, CMS […]

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