Is going to be a lot clearer when Congress finishes work on the Connect for Health Act.
The bill has Bipartisan backing from 57 Senators, and would:
- permanently remove geographic restrictions on telehealth,
- allow patients to do visits from their homes and
- grant the Secretary of HHS permanent authority to waive telehealth restrictions.
It is possible a competing bill – which would only temporarily extend telehealth waivers – will be passed instead of the Connect for Health Act. Regardless, it’s clear telehealth is going to be a major part of US healthcare going forward.
Emergency regulations that lifted restrictions on telehealth are likely to extend thru the end of this year; these were a response to COVID.
One key issue is whether phone calls will “count” as telehealth, a change that would certainly expand the availability of these services, as even today many patients don’t have access to reliable internet and/or a video-connected device.
One likely change is reimbursement; expect Congress/HHS to reduce reimbursement for telehealth visits.
I’d expect most workers’ comp fee schedules to follow Medicare’s lead – even those that aren’t directly tied to Medicare.
What does this mean for you?
When Medicare does something, everyone else soon follows.