For many people, the New Year is a time for new beginnings. But for many telehealth patients, the start of 2021 means being plunged back into 2019 as Congress prepares to walk back some of the pandemic-related coverage and payment flexibilities it instituted for 33 million seniors and people with disabilities.
In December 2020, I joined telehealth CEOs and health system leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services Telehealth Innovation Summit to make critical asks of the federal government after 2020’s monumental year for virtual care, in which Congress and HHS allowed new reimbursements for telemedicine visits broadly defined.
While 2020’s relaxed regulations were generally praised, many stakeholders, myself included, called on regulators to rethink an important policy change buried in the end-of-year $900 billion congressional bipartisan and bicameral spending and Covid-19 relief package. In it, in-person visits would once again be initially required before tele-behavioral health services would be covered. This notion — that patients and providers need to first meet in person first before moving online — is medically unnecessary and potentially dangerous with a raging pandemic. It is also a hallmark of early telehealth regulations developed because of concerns that telehealth would drive unnecessary visits and create new opportunities for health care fraud and abuse.
Well said Hill. I agree 100%. Virtual visits can improve care, compliance and customer service. Proud to be working with HeraMed for pregnancy care virtually and we are blown away with the results. Keep up the great work!
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