On April 23, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released a new COVID-19 toolkit. While the toolkit is directed to the states, it should serve the American telehealth community as a focal point for the organization and alignment of the infinite number of state and federal regulations relevant to telehealth. So, it serves as a great organizing tool for provider’s own operational use but also as an architecture for providers to catalogue the changes they would like to suggest to the states in order to improve access to telehealth.
Continue Reading CMS’s New Telehealth Toolkit Arrives at Just the Right COVID-19 Time for Providers and Policy Makers

On April 13, 2020 the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) began accepting applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program (“Telehealth Program”), money which is part of the recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“Cares Act”).  The Telehealth Program will provide $200 million in funding to assist eligible health care providers deliver telehealth services to patients in their homes or other mobile locations to combat novel Coronavirus 2019 (“COVID-19”).  The funding is available for eligible health care providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by compensating providers for their telecommunication services, information services, and devices necessary for them to provide critical telehealth services.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Telehealth Funds available for Academic Medical Centers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has opened the COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application portal and is now accepting applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program (the “Telehealth Program”). Authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), the Telehealth Program will provide $200 million in funding to assist eligible health care providers deliver telehealth services to patients in their homes or other mobile locations in an effort to combat the novel Coronavirus 2019 disease (“COVID-19”).  The funding is available for eligible health care providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by fully compensating providers for their telecommunication services, information services, and devices necessary for them to provide critical telehealth services. Notably, the Telehealth Program is not currently available to certain types of health care providers, including for-profit providers. Consequently, some providers, including local hospitals that are part of a larger for-profit health system, may find themselves ineligible for telehealth funding.
Continue Reading The FCC Launches COVID-19 Telehealth Program Amidst Eligibility Concerns

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) held a Special Open Door Forum that was open to the public on April 8, 2020. CMS has been working to address the COVID-19 pandemic through 1) increasing hospital capacity, 2) rapid expansion of the healthcare workforce, 3) relaxing health care administrative requirements, and promoting the use of telehealth, which this call was focused on. The call provided an opportunity for health care providers to ask specific questions and express concerns about telehealth and Medicare reimbursement.
Continue Reading CMS Special Open Door Forum Addresses Pressing Telehealth Questions

In response to the March 27th, Executive Order #16 (EO16) by Wisconsin Governor Evers, on March 30st HB blog,  the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) issued guidance to medical malpractice insurance carriers to provide coverage for telemedicine services under the same terms for providers as if they were

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) confirmed that hospice physicians and nurse practitioners who serve as a patient’s attending physician (“NPs”) can use telehealth to perform medically necessary visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. To assist hospices in evaluating the feasibility of using telehealth for medically necessary visits with Medicare patients, Husch Blackwell has created a “Hospice Telehealth Flowchart.” The Flowchart addresses important operational considerations as well as the Medicare requirements related to rendering and billing for such telehealth visits.
Continue Reading Tools for Your Hospice Tool Box: Telehealth Flowchart for Billable Hospice Physician and Nurse Practitioner Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Change is fast-paced in the world of COVID-19. On Monday, March 30th, CMS released an interim final rule along with hospice specific waivers. In this episode, your Hospice Team discusses these recent developments and their impact on telehealth, face-to-face encounters, virtual visits and Medicare appeals and audits.

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In this episode, your Hospice Team shares insights on operationalizing recent government guidance for hospices facing coronavirus obstacles. We discuss the role of virtual visits, how to use telehealth, and the practical impact of the Medicare appeal waiver. Listen to the full episode here: https://bit.ly/2JmhkMV

In a March 24th letter to all of the nation’s Governors, Secretary Alex Azar of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) called upon states to take immediate action to loosen regulations that present obstacles to the delivery of effective in person and telehealth services during the COVID-19 emergency. In an effort to “carry out a whole-America response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary Azar asked governors to urgently take steps to “extend the capacity of the health care workforce.”
Continue Reading HHS Urges States to Remove Most of Remaining State Licensing Barriers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Stethoscope and Tablet_600x600-2On March 17, 2020, U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) released guidance clarifying that restrictions under the Ryan Haight Act (the Act) are removed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing health care practitioners to prescribe controlled substances to patients through the use of telemedicine without any “in-person medical evaluation.” The Act generally prohibits practitioners from dispensing controlled substances through the internet without an in-person evaluation, unless an applicable exception is met. One exception to the Act occurs in the event of a public health emergency, which was triggered when HHS Secretary Alex Azar declared an emergency in response to COIVD-19 effective January 31, 2020. Practitioners now have the go-ahead to prescribe controlled substances through telemedicine technology without compliance with the Act’s requirements, but only for the duration of the public health emergency due to COVID-19.
Continue Reading Texas Responds to DEA Announcement Allowing Prescription of Controlled Substances via Telemedicine during COVID-19 Emergency