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COVID-19: CMS Issues Second Round of Groundbreaking Changes for Telehealth - What You Need to Know

May 62020

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has introduced a new crop of temporary regulatory flexibilities in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) in the form of new blanket waivers, implementing guidance related to provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Support Act (CARES Act) regarding rural health clinics (RHCs) and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), as well as a new interim final rule (April IFC). 

This flurry of new guidance comes exactly one month after CMS published an interim final rule on March 30 (March IFC). The new guidance sets forth a historic expansion of telehealth services by fully expanding the list of permissible telehealth providers, significantly broadening the availably of audio-only telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries, among other significant telehealth expansions. The new blanket waivers and the April IFC (except as otherwise specifically designated) are retroactively effective as of March 1, 2020. This article discusses the telehealth waivers and flexibilities in this most recent guidance from CMS aimed at making health care available to Medicare beneficiaries in a manner that keeps both providers and patients safe during the PHE.