CMS may extend coverage for some telehealth services beyond the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Back in March 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) added several services to the Medicare telehealth services list for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE).  Extending coverage of telehealth services was deemed necessary during the pandemic in order to lessen risk of exposure for patients and health care providers while maintaining access to services. In the proposed rule for the calendar year 2021 physician fee schedule, published in the Federal Register on August 17, 2020, CMS requested public comment on extending coverage for certain telehealth services through December 31, 2021, or permanently. 


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FCC awards $25 million in Telehealth grants

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized $200 million in grants for telehealth.  On April 2, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, and invited applications from nonprofit health care entities to fund Telehealth services.  As health care providers deal with rapidly expanding numbers of COVID-19 patients, telehealth can help to:

  • Provide remote assistance to patients who worry that they may have COVID-19 and need advice on whether to get tested, stay at home or seek care
  • Connect hospitalized COVID-19 patients with their families
  • Allow remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients, and of other patients with chronic health conditions
  • Allow patients other than COVID-19 patients to receive care remotely while avoiding exposure to COVID-19.

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