Members of Congress urge CMS to allow telephone-only mental health care during COVID-19 & more Telehealth Buzz

Bipartisan Effort to Expand Access to Tele-mental Health for Medicare Recipients

  • Last week U.S. Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Grace Napolitano (D-CA) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services urging the agencies to expand Medicare-covered telehealth services.
  • The CARES Act authorizes HHS to waive current audio/video telehealth requirements during the pandemic, which would enable Medicare recipients to consult with medical professionals using only the telephone.
  • The social distancing requirements of the pandemic make expanding mental health access even more imperative.
  • Read the full story here.

Florida Extends Emergency Telehealth Rule for Medical Marijuana

  • Florida extended the emergency telehealth rule for practitioners prescribing medical marijuana at 6pm on April 15, the date is was set to expire. The rule now expires May 8.
  • Prior to extending the rule, the Department of Health acknowledged the difficulty physicians would face in delivering care safely during the pandemic if the rule were to expire.
  • Florida has 333,625 medical marijuana patients and 2,537 qualified physicians. Medical marijuana patients must meet with their doctors every 210 days to maintain their status as a qualified patient.
  • Extending the rule ensures that medical marijuana patients and their physicians are able to stay safe and continue medical treatment during the pandemic.
  • Read the full story here.

New Telehealth Insurance Standards in Texas

  • The Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation issued a new emergency rule, 28 Texas Administrative Code § 167.1, effective April 13, regarding the use of telehealth for physical medicine and rehabilitation services during the pandemic.
  • The rule creates an exception to current CMS distant site practitioner requirements.
  • The rule allows “physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists to bill and be reimbursed for services currently allowed under CMS telemedicine and telehealth billing codes.”
  • The rule will be officially published on April 24, 2020.
  • Read the full story here.

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