PHE Changes

With the public health emergency (PHE) declared to have ended on May 11, 2023, now is the time to update any current policies or practices that may have been implemented in your organization due to Covid-19. One of the most notable updates allows remote communication flexibilities to remain in place for an additional 90 days, however, HIPAA compliant communications requirements must be in place by 08/09/2023. 

HHS released a new Fact Sheet outlining key details of what will change and what will stay the same for patients and providers when the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) declared by the Secretary of HHS under Public Health Service Act section 319 (referred to below as the “COVID-19 PHE”) PHE ends.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, extended many Medicare telehealth flexibilities for people with Medicare through December 31, 2024, such as:

  • Access to telehealth services in any geographic area in the United States, rather than only in rural areas.
  • Allowing patients to stay in their homes for telehealth visits that Medicare pays for rather than requiring travel to a health care facility.
  • Certain Medicare telehealth visits can be delivered using audio-only technology (such as a telephone) if someone is unable to use both audio and video, such as a smartphone or computer.

Additionally, after December 31, 2024, when these flexibilities expire, some Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) may offer telehealth services that allow doctors and other practitioners participating in the ACO to care for patients without an in-person visit, no matter where they live. Medicare Advantage plans must cover the telehealth benefits covered by Medicare and may offer additional telehealth benefits. Individuals in a Medicare Advantage plan should check with their plan about coverage for telehealth services.

States have a great deal of flexibility with respect to covering Medicaid. After the end of the federal PHE, Medicaid and CHIP telehealth policies will continue to vary by state. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) encourages states to continue to cover Medicaid and CHIP services delivered via telehealth.

To assist states with the continuation, adoption, or expansion of telehealth coverage and payment policies, CMS has released the State Medicaid & CHIP Telehealth Toolkit and a supplement that identifies for states the policy topics that should be addressed to facilitate widespread adoption of telehealth.

Check out the following toolkits and resources to assure you are up to date with the most recent PHE changes: