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CMS Issues Significant Changes to Hospice Telehealth in Response to COVID-19

On March 30, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an Interim Final Rule (IFC) introducing temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to promote flexibility in the American health care system in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For the duration of the public health emergency (PHE), CMS is amending the hospice regulations to specify that when a patient is receiving routine home care, hospices may provide services via telehealth as long as it is feasible and appropriate. CMS believes this approach will ensure that Medicare patients can continue receiving services that are reasonable and necessary for the palliation and management of a patients’ terminal illness and related conditions without jeopardizing the patients’ health or the health of those who are providing such services.” CMS instructs that the use of telehealth must be included in the plan of care. And the inclusion of technology on the plan of care must … be tied to the patient-specific needs as identified in the comprehensive assessment and the measurable outcomes that the hospice anticipates will occur as a result of implementing the plan of care.”