Telehealth Policy Changes During COVID-19: What Providers Need to Know

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April 20, 2020
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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put a strain on the health care system, federal and state governments and enforcement agencies have relaxed telehealth rules. The relaxation of such rules is an effort to increase hospital capacity and limit the exposure and spread of COVID-19 in health care settings.

  • Medicaid Agencies and Licensure Boards in several states have relaxed the restrictions on license reactivation and on cross-state licensure requirements and telehealth reimbursement. However, such allowances may only apply during a declared state of emergency. Accordingly, it will be important to pay close attention to any new developments or pronouncements from the governor and public health officials in your state.      
  • CMS Section 1135 Waiver expands telehealth services to allow for: 
    • Service to Medicare beneficiaries regardless of patient location — including at the patient’s home; 
    • Consultation via telephone without the requirement of video conferencing;
    • Service to patients with whom the provider does not have a pre-existing relationship; 
    • Treatment by a physician or health care professional in another state so long as they have an equivalent license from another state and subject to any state law requirements that may apply;
    • Application to any service without regard to the treatment or diagnosis of the patient, not just for COVID-19.
  • Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights will not impose penalties for violations of certain HIPAA rules, including the lack of a Business Associate Agreement between the provider and the technology vendor. Additionally, covered health care providers may provide telehealth services by utilizing popular video chat applications including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Zoom, or Skype to provide telehealth services. 

The Health Care Team at Steptoe & Johnson is fully prepared to assist you in planning your telehealth services. Please contact any member of our team for immediate assistance regarding the new telehealth requirements.