CMS expands telehealth services in coronavirus outbreak

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The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on March 17 expanded Medicare telehealth coverage to allow beneficiaries more opportunity to remotely receive care from their physicians.

The expanded policy follows a call by President Donald Trump for all insurance companies to adjust their telehealth policies in light of the coronavirus pandemic, CMS said.

Retroactively to March 6, CMS will pay clinicians for telehealth services provided to patients across the U.S. under the Physician Fee Schedule at the same amount as in-person services, according to CMS. Before enacting this expanded coverage, Medicare only paid physicians for telehealth services for routine visits under particular circumstances, such as beneficiaries living in rural areas.

"Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive various services through telehealth, including common office visits, mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings," CMS said. "This will help ensure Medicare beneficiaries, who are at a higher risk for COVID-19, are able to visit with their doctor from their home, without having to go to a doctor's office or hospital which puts themselves or others at risk."

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