CMS Increasing Telephone E/M Payments, Waives Video Requirement for Certain Services
May 1, 2020
ASRA provided comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in April asking the agency to waive the video requirement for evaluation and management (E/M) services via telehealth. In response to this request along with feedback from multiple medical societies, CMS announced April 30 that it will increase payments for audio-only telephone visits between Medicare beneficiaries and their physicians to match payments for similar office and outpatient visits.
This is good news for physicians providing care to individuals who do not have devices or high-speed internet such as elderly patients with chronic conditions. "Many seniors to not have access to a smartphone yet alone a tablet," said Gary Schwartz, MD, a member of ASRA's Practice Management Committee. Dr. Schwartz expressed his appreciation for the new rule, noting "many of my patients in Brooklyn have older flip phones without the ability to use video conferencing."
Here are some of the changes:
- Payments for telephone E/M visits will be increased to match payments for similar office and outpatient visits. Specifically, CMS would increase payments for telephone E/M services from a range of about $14-$41 to about $46-$110, retroactive to March 1, 2020.
- To quickly add services to the telehealth list during the emergency, CMS will use sub-regulatory processes (vs. rulemaking) to consider requests by practitioners who are learning to use telehealth as broadly as possible.
- The video requirement will be waived for certain telephone E/M services and added to the list of Medicare telehealth services. As a result, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to use an audio-only telephone to get these services. This will address concerns with Medicare beneficiaries who don’t have access to interactive audio-video technology that is required for Medicare telehealth services or choose not to use it even if offered by their practitioner.
ASRA Submits Comments to CMS Regarding Telehealth During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Apr 20, 2020
ASRA has submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to urge the agency to use its authority to waive the “video” requirement for furnishing evaluation and management (E/M) services via telehealth across all settings and places of service, including office/outpatient settings and inpatient hospital settings. Additionally, if CMS is unable to use its authority to waive this requirement, ASRA urges the agency to increase reimbursement for telephone E/M services so it is at least comparable to reimbursement for office/outpatient E/M services.