Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency, healthcare providers were able to use telehealth services to treat COVID-19 (and for other medically reasonable purposes) from offices, hospitals, and places of residence (like homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities) as of March 6, 2020.
Under the new developments, HIPAA rules were relaxed, and providers were allowed to do telehealth visits, even using FaceTime and billing using the same code as face-to-face (F2F) systems.
CMS issued flexibilities around telehealth. Clinicians were allowed to bill immediately for dates of service starting March 6, 2020. Telehealth services were paid under the physician fee schedule at the same amount as in-person services. Medicare coinsurance and deductible still applied for these services. Additionally, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) provided flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal healthcare programs.
Using a HIPAA-compliant platform, a home-based primary care (HBPC) practice shares its experience using telehealth in continuing to provide medical care visit for homebound seniors, including documentation of the visits. Experiences such as this may have a potential for telehealth visits to become part of the mainstream program within Medicare, especially where vulnerable homebound older adults are concerned.