CMS announced an increase in payment for telehealth visits (CPT 99441-99443), increasing payment for audio-only telephone E/M services from $14 – 41 to $46 – 110.
On April 30, CMS announced it would now be paying audio-only telephone services in parity with similar office and outpatient E&M visits provided either in person or through audio-visual telehealth communications technology. This policy is retroactive to March 1, 2020. This change will be effective for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
For telehealth services other than CPT codes 99441-99443 and 98966-98968 (now added to the list of covered telehealth services), Medicare continues to require modalities that have both audio and video capabilities. In addition:
- CMS is bypassing its typical rulemaking process to speed up the procedure of adding new services to the list.
- CMS is expanding the list of distant site provider types who can furnish Medicare telehealth services to include any health care professional eligible to bill Medicare for their professional services.
- Medicare will no longer require an order from the treating practitioner for beneficiaries to get tests and certain laboratory services required as part of a COVID-19 diagnosis. During the public health emergency, COVID-19 tests may be covered when ordered by any health care professional authorized to do so under state law. A written practitioner’s order is no longer required for the COVID-19 test for Medicare payment purposes.
CMS continues to broaden services and reduce burden to help physicians better care for Medicare patients.