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CMS Archives - National Consortium of Telehealth Research Centers

FCC, CMS, California Medicaid All Take Steps to Expand Telehealth Utilization

By | Center for Connected Health Policy
Original Source: Center for Connected Health Policy
FCC Pilot Up for Public Comment & FCC Voting to Overhaul Rural Health Care Program

Last month the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released their proposed ruleto establish the Connected Care Pilot Program to support the development of telehealth services and delivery for low-income Americans, especially among rural and veteran populations. A Notice of Inquiry for comments on the program was originally made in July 2018.  The FCC is proposing to adopt a $100 million budget, and would fund up to 20 connected care projects with a three-year funding period, though all costs of a pilot would not be fully funded by this program. The pilot would give health care providers the flexibility to determine health conditions and geographic areas that they would like to focus on. The program would be limited to only health conditions that typically require at least several months or more of treatment, such as behavioral health, opioid dependency, chronic health conditions and high risk pregnancies. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July 30, 2019 and comments are due August 29, 2019.  FCC’s responses to public comments are expected on or before September 30, 2019.

Additionally, in July the FCC voted to adopt a Report and Order which indicates they will be reforming the way they distribute funding in the Rural Health Care Program, amidst growing demand and an effort to reduce inefficiencies and waste.  A major component of the Rural Health Care Program involves subsidizing the cost of broadband services for rural participants. The FCC plans to prioritize its support through the program based on “rurality tiers” as well as if the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) designates the area as a medically underserved population, with those classified as “extremely rural” receiving the highest priority.

To learn more about the FCC’s Report and Order and other planned changes, see the full document.

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Medicare Proposed 2020 PFS & California Medicaid Policy

By | Center for Connected Health Policy

Original Source: Center for Connected Health Policy

 

Medi-Cal Telehealth Fee-For-Service Policy Update

On July 29, 2019, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) which oversees the state’s Medicaid program (Medi-Cal), released their final telehealth policy update for fee-for-service.  In October 2018, DHCS released proposed changes to telehealth policies for Medi-Cal fee-for-service, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), Indian Health Services (IHS) and Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment (FPACT).  A copy of the final fee-for-service policy is available on the DHCS website though it is still labeled “DRAFT.”  The Department states that while this is the final policy, the official version of the policy will be published on their site later this month along with the updated manuals for FQHCs, RHCs, IHS, and FPACT.  When all manuals have been released, CCHP will do an in-depth analysis of all of the new policies.  In the meantime, CCHP has created a side-by-side comparison of Medi-Cal’s previous policy, the October 2018 proposal and the final proposal as well as highlighting some of the changes in the final policy.

CCHP will also be holding an informational webinar in the Fall to go over these exciting changes in Medi-Cal’s policies.  Stay tuned for more information.

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Telehealth-Based Directly Observed Therapy Proves Effective in Guam for Tuberculosis Treatment

By | Center for Connected Health Policy

Original Source: Center for Connected Health Policy

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:

CMS Releases Proposed CY 2020 Physician Fee Schedule

Yesterday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released their proposed Calendar Year 2020 Physician Fee Schedule, aiming to reduce administrative burden on physicians, and make it easier for patients to access value-based care.  Among the changes, CMS has proposed steps to help clinicians better manage chronically ill patients as they transition from the hospital to the home through care management services.  CMS is also proposing to add three new codes for a bundled episode of care for treatment of opioid use disorder, among other changes.

Comments on the proposal are due Sept. 27, 2019.

Stay tuned for an in depth analysis from CCHP in next week’s In Focus.  

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CMS Drops 2019 Telehealth Fact Sheet for Medicare

By | Center for Connected Health Policy

Original Source: Center for Connected Health Policy

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released its 2019 Medicare Fact Sheet for Telehealth Services which outlines what services the program will reimburse if delivered via telehealth.  The 2019 Fact Sheet outlines the changes that were made by two pieces of legislation passed in 2018, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA) and the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act (Support Act).  Both Acts expanded where services delivered via telehealth could take place.
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North Dakota Advances Bill that Allows for Valid Relationship Over Store-and-Forward Telemedicine

By | Center for Connected Health Policy

Original Source: Center for Connected Health Policy

In North Dakota’s SB 2094, which was introduced in early January and amended in the Senate Human Services Committee later that month, has been gaining some attention in telehealth circles due to some of its more unique characteristics; largely because it allows a valid relationship between a licensee and a patient to be established over telemedicine.  Alone this is not unique, as it is relatively common for states to allow a licensee-patient relationship to be established via live video telemedicine (CCHP has identified at least 28 states with this explicit allowance).  However, the legislation specifies that the examination can take place either via video conferencing or “store-and-forward technology for appropriate diagnostic testing and use of peripherals.”  It goes on to specify that in certain types of telemedicine utilizing asynchronous store-and-forward technology or electronic monitoring, such as teleradiology or intensive care unit monitoring, it is not necessary to conduct an independent exam of the patient.  This allowance for store-and-forward to be used in establishing a valid relationship is rare.
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CMS Begins Virtual Communication Reimbursement as States Take Different Approaches to Telehealth Policy

By | Center for Connected Health Policy

Original Source: Center for Connected Health Policy

CMS Releases Virtual Communication FAQs & MLN Matters Guidance for RHCs and FQHCs

Beginning January 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began reimbursing for certain kinds of services furnished remotely using communications technology that are not considered “Medicare telehealth services.” Because they are not defined specifically as telehealth, the limitations and restrictions generally applicable to telehealth in Medicare do not apply.  These services include “virtual communication services” including communication technology-based services (HCPCS code G2012) and remote evaluation services (HCPCS code G2010).  However, due to the unique rules that apply to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and rural health clinics (RHCs), CMS has assigned a new code (G0071) specifically for these safety-net clinics to utilize for virtual communication services as they are not eligible to bill G2010 or G2012.  As a result of this policy change, CMS has released an FAQ document on the topic to help clarify any confusion around the use of the new code for FQHCs and RHCs.  View the FAQs for the full scope of the questions and concerns answered through the document.

Additionally, a Medicare Learning Network (MLN) Matters document was also released with instructions for FQHCs and RHCs billing Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) for communication technology-based services.  The document stipulates that the payment rate for G0071 is set at the average of the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) non-facility payment rate for communication technology-based services and remote evaluation services, and that the face-to-face requirement that normally applies to RHCs and FQHCs is waived for these services.  For more information on the requirements, see the full MLN Mattersdocument.

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National Consortium Webinar – CCHP Presents: Federal and State Policy Updates for CY 2019, including CMS Changes & State Level Trends

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Join the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) on November 28, 2018 at 12 pm PT for an examination of recent telehealth policy changes.  CCHP Executive Director, Mei Kwong, and Policy Associate, Christine Calouro will be joined by Jonathan Neufeld, PhD of gpTRAC to talk about:

 

  • CY 2019 Medicare Telehealth Policy Changes
  • Medicare Advantage Plans & Telehealth
  • Latest on Telehealth & Substance Use Disorder
  • Developments on the State Level
  • FQHCs & RHCs

Space is limited for this free webinar, reserve your spot today.

This webinar is being sponsored by the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers.

Download the Powerpoint