CMS Further Expands Telehealth Services for Medicare Recipients


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will temporarily expand telehealth options, including for new patients and audio-only appointments.

In a direct response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid on Monday revealed more temporary expansions of telehealth services for Medicare recipients.

“Today, we're announcing that we're going to go even further and we're going to be paying doctors to make phone calls with their patients and provide care over the phone,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced at a COVID-19 Task Force press briefing Monday afternoon. “And we're getting rid of long-standing barriers to telehealth in the Medicare program, allowing emergency rooms to use telehealth and eliminating requirements that some visits be provided face-to-face.”

In a larger announcement around new regulatory changes to combat the pandemic, also published Monday, CMS officials said the agency will “now allow for more than 80 additional services to be furnished via telehealth.” The agency also noted that under the expansion “new as well as established patients now may stay at home and have a telehealth visit with their provider,” and providers will have the ability to bill for telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits. 

On top of several other additions, CMS also said physicians can supervise their clinical staff “using virtual technologies when appropriate, instead of requiring in-person presence.”

The news comes several days after the agency initially announced plans to broaden reimbursements for telehealth services and extend telehealth benefits for Medicare recipients. Further information on the agency's waivers and rule changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found online.

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