Comparison of Telehealth Provisions During the Public Health Emergency, and After the Public Health Emergency
The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services first implemented a Public Health Emergency (PHE) Declaration on January 21, 2020. Since then, the PHE has been reauthorized multiple times. Under federal rules, the PHE must be renewed every 90 days. It was last renewed on January 14, 2022, and will expire on April 14, 2022, unless renewed. APA recently sent a letter to the HHS Secretary asking for a renewal and at least a 90-day notice before expiring the PHE to help clinicians and patients plan and ensure continuity of care. Even without this 90-day notice, Congress has approved an extension of telehealth flexibilities for 5 months after the PHE ends.
Under the PHE, certain provisions were applied that expanded Medicare telehealth coverage. These provisions allowed for flexibility regarding how and where patients could be seen via telehealth; the reimbursement rates for telehealth services; and clinician licensure. Recognizing the benefits of these flexibilities to clinicians and patients alike, APA has advocated that many of these be retained after the PHE expires. One way that APA advocated for retaining these changes was by submitting public comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the 2022 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS). Subsequently, many of the flexibilities enjoyed during the PHE were retained, either total or in-part. The document summarizes current telehealth policies (status during the PHE) and the policies that will be in effect when the PHE provisions expire.