As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to sweep across the nation, rivaling the surge of cases seen in Italy and Spain, providing certainty within the healthcare system has become essential to addressing the crisis. On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest stimulus bill in U.S. history, with $2 trillion in allocations directed into emergency funds to be accessed by eligible healthcare providers. Part of the bill provides key provisions related to telehealth legislation, making access to virtual care even more accessible.
Increased Access to Telehealth Services
The CARES Act includes a number of policy changes to telehealth services to increase access to care during the COVID-19 crisis. Now, patients no longer need a pre-existing relationship with a healthcare provider to use telehealth services. Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) may be used as sites of care for telehealth for patients in at home or in other facilities like nursing homes and hospice care. More grant programs are being developed to promote telehealth technology in healthcare delivery and education. Additionally, the Act allows FQHCs and RHCs to be reimbursed at a rate under the physician fee schedule that is similar to payment for comparable telehealth services.
Increased Telehealth Flexibility for Medicare Patients and Veterans
With new legislation, patients have complete access to telehealth from a wide range of providers. The Act excludes the requirement that a professional must have treated a Medicare beneficiary in the last three years in order to provide them with telehealth services during COVID-19. For veterans, $14.4 billion is allocated to support telehealth, medical equipment and supplies, testing kits, and personal protective equipment (PPEs).
The Future of Healthcare
The expansion of telehealth services is more important than ever during this global pandemic. The CARES Act provides bold action and expanded coverage to provide patients greater access to care through telehealth. Provisions allow distant or “medically vulnerable” individuals to communicate with their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility, limiting the risk of exposure and spread of the virus. The CARES Act ensures an increased “flattening of the curve” and has pushed the importance of healthcare telehealth services to the forefront of patient treatment worldwide.
The future of remote provider-patient care is here. As Ann Mond Jackson, MBA, MHA, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), based in Washington, D.C., states, “We believe the bill reflects the scale of challenges we face as a country and recognizes that expanding virtual care is necessary to defeat COVID-19.” In an interview with HealthLeaders last week, she further emphasized how the CARES Act delivers on expanding and strengthening healthcare, “All of a sudden people are realizing that telehealth can be an incredible tool to get people access to care, to speed diagnosis, to get them treated if necessary, and to limit the risk of person-to-person exposure and spread of the disease.”
The CARES Act provides a number of provisions making telehealth services more accessible during the COVID-19 outbreak. Allow LEVO Health’s team of specialists to help launch your telehealth business. Call us today at (855) 234-0232 or email [email protected] to get started.