Payers Have Lowered Barriers to Telehealth. Will Those Changes Stick? Here's What Experts Have to Say
May 27, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration has opened up access to telehealth with sweeping—but temporary—changes to reimbursement policies. In a matter of weeks, most of the barriers to telehealth reimbursement fell away enabling many of the changes that provider groups have wanted for years: payment parity for virtual visits, the ability to provide telehealth to patients at home, and allowing more providers to offer telehealth visits. As of March 30, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is now allowing more than 80 additional services through telehealth. “These changes are significant not only for the 15% of the population that receives healthcare coverage through Medicare but to the U.S. population at large,” said Jacqueline Marks, manager at Manatt Health, during a recent FierceHealthcare virtual event. Medicare is often considered the pace car for telehealth and other healthcare policy, she said. “State Medicaid and other payers model their telehealth policy approaches off what Medicare does. Changes to the Medicare program have a ripple effect through the rest of the healthcare coverage landscape,” she said.