Reminder: Home Health Telehealth G-Codes

This month home health agencies can begin voluntarily reporting the three new codes for telehealth services that were finalized as part of the CY 2023 Home Health Proposed Payment System final rule.  Reporting becomes mandatory July 1, 2023. Since there is not a payment tied to the new codes, agencies may be asking what the…

Telehealth Strategies for the Future

Wednesday, December 7 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Eastern REGISTER Telehealth has expanded rapidly across the health care continuum. When the patient is at the center of implementation and ongoing workflow, benefits of telehealth programs can create connectedness and optimization of health care resources. This program will explore real-life examples of telehealth as well as…

CMS Issues Telecommunications G-Codes for Home Health Reporting

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued Change Request 12805 that creates new G-codes for reporting home health services furnished by telehealth and to revise Original Medicare systems to process them without affecting payment to the home health agencies (HHAs). In the CY 2023 Home Health Proposed Payment System final rule, CMS…

NAHC to Senate: Make Telehealth Access Permanent

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice has joined other health care stakeholders in writing a letter to leaders in both parties in the United States Senate, urging them to make permanent the current telehealth flexibilties created to deal with the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). Expanded access to telehealth durng the PHE has…

CMS Revises PHE Fact Sheets to Reflect Extension for use of Telehealth to Perform HH, Hospice F2F Encounters

On August 18, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued extensive materials providing guidance related to the planned phase-out of various waivers, regulations, enforcement discretion, and sub-regulatory guidance that were utilized to ensure access to care and give health care providers the flexibilities needed to respond to COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE).…

CMS Clarifies Time Frame for Phase Out of F2F Telehealth Flexibilities

Don’t miss fact sheets for home health & hospice at end of this article On August 18, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued extensive materials providing guidance related to the planned phase-out of various waivers, regulations, enforcement discretion, and sub-regulatory guidance that were utilized to ensure access to care and give…

Bill to Extend PHE Telehealth Flexibilities Advances in Congress

Legislation to extend telehealth waivers until the end of 2024 passed by the U.S. House of Representatives late last week, offering the hope that this pandemic-related flexibility could be made more permanent and outlive the public health emergency (PHE), which is set to expire in October.

The news is notable because it means that these pandemic-relief telehealth flexibilities could be untied from the public health emergency (PHE). Currently, the PHE is set to expire in October, but could receive another extension.

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee moved the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act forward in an almost unanimous vote.

“The bill gives Congress, Medicare, and stakeholders time to produce a permanent policy with any necessary program integrity measures and benefit qualifications on a complex set of issues,” said NAHC President William A. Dombi. “For home health and hospice, it preserves, at least temporarily, the very valuable option of telehealth visits to meet the face-to-face encounter requirements under the respective benefits.”

Dombi has previously said that both “in home health and in hospice, [agencies] delivered telehealth services quite robustly during the pandemic for free. And so now the next expectation is [they’ll] always do it for free.”

Understandably, providers want to be paid for the telehealth services they provide and Dombi believes this may now be possible. “The extension also provides an opportunity to get additional changes in telehealth policy in place such as payment to home health agencies,” added Dombi. “It essentially guarantees there will be a future legislative vehicle to do so, whereas Congress does not have the time to consider those changes now.”

Before the PHE created circumstances leading to the current flexibility, patients were required to have an in-person doctor’s appointment before they could receive home health services.

The legislation would maintain the increase in the geographic locations where Medicare beneficiaries can receive telehealth services.

“We saw telehealth services widely and successfully adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, now we must ensure those services are here to stay,” Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) said in a statement. “For seniors, traveling to a doctor’s office can be a prohibitive barrier to receiving the care they need, and we cannot allow people who have come to rely on telehealth throughout the pandemic to have that resource taken from them. This legislation brings us one step closer to permanently expanding telehealth services and allowing Americans to continue to access critical health care from the comfort of their home.”

Bill to Extend PHE Telehealth Flexibilities Advances in Congress

Legislation to extend telehealth waivers until the end of 2024 passed by the U.S. House of Representatives late last week, offering the hope that this pandemic-related flexibility could be made more permanent and outlive the public health emergency (PHE), which is set to expire in October. The news is notable because it means that these…

HHS Issues Guidance on HIPAA and Audio-Only Telehealth

On Monday, June 13, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Office for Civil Rights (OCR), is issuing guidance on how covered health care providers and health plans can use remote communication technologies to provide audio-only telehealth services when such communications are conducted in a manner that is consistent with the applicable requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules, including when OCR’s Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth – PDF is no longer in effect.

This guidance will help individuals to continue to benefit from audio-only telehealth by clarifying how covered entities can provide these services in compliance with the HIPAA Rules and by improving public confidence that covered entities are protecting the privacy and security of their health information.

While telehealth can significantly expand access to health care, certain populations may have difficulty accessing or be unable to access technologies used for audio-video telehealth because of various factors, including financial resources, limited English proficiency, disability, internet access, availability of sufficient broadband, and cell coverage in the geographic area.  Audio-only telehealth, especially using technologies that do not require broadband availability, can help address the needs of some of these individuals.

“Audio telehealth is an important tool to reach patients in rural communities, individuals with disabilities, and others seeking the convenience of remote options. This guidance explains how the HIPAA Rules permit health care providers and plans to offer audio telehealth while protecting the privacy and security of individuals’ health information,” said OCR Director Lisa J. Pino.

The Guidance on How the HIPAA Rules Permit Health Plans and Covered Health Care Providers to Use Remote Communication Technologies for Audio-Only Telehealth may be found at: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/guidance/hipaa-audio-telehealth/index.html.