President Trump issues executive order to permanently expand telemedicine

On Monday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order in support of the expansion of telemedicine services, particularly in rural areas. This order makes permanent the increased offering of telemedicine services necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to issue a new rule proposing a Physician Fee Schedule that will cement reimbursement for many telemedicine services. This proposal would build on the work CMS has done to increase access to high-quality care during the public healthy emergency caused by the novel coronavirus.

Medicare beneficiaries have made great use of the telemedicine services offered during the public health emergency. Prior to the pandemic, approximately 13,000 beneficiaries a week utilized telemedicine services. In the last week of April, this number increased to nearly 1.7 million.

This is due, in large part, to the increased amount of telemedicine services CMS had deemed eligible for reimbursement—more than 135 services are eligible during the pandemic.

In this executive order, the President also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to create a voluntary pilot payment program that would assist hospitals in rural communities, providing them with increased Medicare reimbursement in exchange for delivering high-quality care.

Source: Fierce Healthcare