Last night, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a series of temporary regulatory waivers to further support the ability of the nation’s healthcare system to respond to COVID-19. The changes outlined below will take effect immediately across the entire country:
- New telehealth codes. CMS will pay for 80 additional telehealth codes, including home visits, emergency department visits, and therapy services. Providers can waive copayments for all telehealth services for Original Medicare beneficiaries.
- Virtual check-ins. Clinicians can provide virtual check-in services (HCPCS G2012, G2010) to both new and established patients. Previously, these services were limited to established patients only.
- Telephone codes. CMS will reimburse for telephone evaluation and management services provided by a physician (CPT 99441-99443) and telephone assessment and management services provided by a qualified nonphysician healthcare professional (CPT 98966-98968). These codes are only available to established patients but may be furnished using audio-only devices.
- E-visits. Licensed clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists can provide e-visits (HCPCS G2061-G2063). These codes are only available to established patients and must be initiated by the patient.
- Removal of frequency limitations on Medicare telehealth. Subsequent inpatient visits (CPT 99231-99233), subsequent skilled nursing visits (CPT 99307-99310), and critical care consult codes (CPT G0508-G0509) no longer have limitations on the number of times they can be billed.
- Medicare physician supervision requirements. Physician supervision can be provided virtually using real-time audio/visual technology for services requiring direct supervision by a physician or other practitioner.
- “Stark Law” waivers. CMS is implementing waivers that exempt providers from sanctions for noncompliance of certain Stark Law rules, permitting certain referrals and the submission of related claims that would otherwise violate the Stark Law.
- MIPS flexibilities. CMS will allow clinicians adversely affected by COVID-19 to submit an application to request reweighting of the MIPS performance categories for the 2019 performance year.
MGMA Government Affairs will continue to educate medical groups as the Administration releases additional waivers and further guidance on COVID-19 related regulatory changes. For a comprehensive list of Medicare telehealth waivers and regulatory developments, please click here.