This week, a bill was successfully in The House of Representatives that extended Medicare Telehealth Services to 2024. The act, named Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act, will see telehealth reimbursement benefits continue to be issued until 2024 when an evaluation will take place. The bill was passed by a significant margin, with 416 of 428 in the chamber electing to move forward with the extended telehealth act. With this vote, the proposed extension will be sent to the Senate for legislation to be passed.
The following are some of the key features of the extension to Medicare Telehealth Services:
- All beneficiaries of telehealth services will maintain what they are currently provided with at any location of their choosing, such as their home.
- Many professions including physical therapists will maintain their role in providing telehealth services
- Health clinics that are federally qualified will maintain their role as a distant site for healthcare providers.
- Audio-only technology will be used for behavioral services, in addition to evaluation and management services.
- It will still be required for hospice clinicians and nurses to fulfill standards and requirements that are relevant to patients looking for recertification using telehealth services
- The bill will see a delay in requirements for in-person mental health assessment for telehealth services. The extension is due to expire on the first day of 2025, however, will run later if the emergency period continues past this date.
The American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement indicating their approval towards the bill. The president of AMA, Dr Jack Resneck Jr, stated; “We urge the Senate to act on this bipartisan bill, and for the Congress to build on this success.” Resneck noted the importance of remote healthcare services during the global pandemic and suggested that, through it, we were taught that telehealth services should continue to be provided for Medicare patients at any location that is convenient to them. AMA is a key association for physicians, offering a voice for many important industries within the healthcare landscape. At present AMA merges over 190 medical societies and uses their influence in court to lobby changes develop the healthcare industry.