CMS Expands Telehealth Coverage in Proposed 2022 Physician Fee Schedule

The proposal includes expanding Medicare coverage for telehealth services that address mental health and substance abuse issues and extending most COVID-19 freedoms until the end of 2023, as well as some coverage for FQHCs and RHCs.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposed 2022 Physician Fee Schedule offers some good news for telehealth advocates.

The 1747-page draft, released this week, proposes to make permanent some provisions enacted years to address the coronavirus pandemic, while continuing most until at least Dec. 23, 2023 “so that there is a glide path to evaluate whether the services should be permanently added to the telehealth list following the COVID-19 PHE (Public Health Emergency).”

CMS is proposing to eliminate geographic restrictions on telemental health coverage and to make the patient’s home an originating site, as long as patient and telemental health provider meet in-person within six months of beginning telehealth services and at least once every six months after.

“We are seeking comment on whether a different interval may be necessary or appropriate for mental health services furnished through audio-only communication technology,” the agency said in a press release. “We are also seeking comment on how to address scenarios where a physician or practitioner of the same specialty/subspecialty in the same group may need to furnish a mental health service due to unavailability of the beneficiary’s regular practitioner.”

As for audio-only telehealth, CMS is proposing to amend its requirements for interactive telecommunications systems, which now focus on real-time, two-way, audio-visual telemedicine technology, to include audio-only telehealth when used for the diagnosis, evaluation or treatment of mental health issues in the patient’s home.

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Author: Eric Wicklund

Published online: July 14, 2021

CMS Expands Telehealth Coverage in Proposed 2022 Physician Fee Schedule was last modified: July 23rd, 2021 by Heidi Rubens Cooper