On March 30th, as part of the ongoing effort to address the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued several additional temporary regulatory waivers and new rules for physicians and other clinicians. At the same time, CMS also released an Interim Final Rule with comment period outlining further changes for Medicare and Medicaid programs. The changes are effective immediately for the duration of the emergency declaration.
Under the new flexibilities, CMS will allow telehealth to fulfill many face-to-face visit requirements for more than 80 additional services, including use of audio only phones to ensure patients have access to physicians and other clinicians while safe at home. In order for the health care system to rapidly expand its workforce, CMS removed barriers for physicians, nurses, and other clinicians to be readily hired from the community or from other states. CMS also expanded in-place testing to allow for more testing at home or in community based settings. Local hospitals and health systems now have the capacity to handle a potential surge of COVID-19 patients through temporary expansion sites (also known as CMS Hospital Without Walls). In addition, CMS will provide temporary relief from many paperwork, reporting and audit requirements so providers, health care facilities, Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, and States can focus on providing needed care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries affected by COVID-19.
CMS temporary new rules include, but are not limited to, the following services:
For more information on the COVID-19 waivers and Interim Final Rule changes, please visit the CMS COVID-19 flexibilities webpage. A complete list of CMS covered telehealth services can also be found on the CMS site.