MedPAC Discusses Post-COVID Telehealth

Should Medicare continue to encourage the use of telehealth when the COVID-19 pandemic ends?

Should it continue to pay for telehealth when the there is no “tele” in the service and it is audio only?

And should Medicare pay different rates for visits in person, telehealth visits, and audio-only (that is, telephone) visits?

These were among the questions addressed by members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission during their public meetings last week.

Members also discussed the need for further analysis of the effectiveness of telehealth and audio-only visits, how to identify audio-only visits on Medicare claims, how to collect data from home health agencies and hospices, which are not required to submit telehealth data, and more.

Learn more about what MedPAC is thinking about the use of telehealth in the future in the MedPage Today article “Medicare Advisors Consider Post-Pandemic Telehealth Pay Policy.”

MedPAC Talks Telehealth

Expanded telehealth is here to stay, members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission agreed at their September public meeting.

What they do not yet know is in what form.

Among the issues that need to be addressed in any post-COVID-19 expansion of Medicare-covered telehealth services are:

  • Whether affording access to telehealth services would exacerbate the digital divide and leave some Medicare beneficiaries with less access to care than others.
  • Whether audio-only coverage, temporarily permitted during the pandemic, should be continued.
  • Whether greater use of telehealth might foster greater use of low-value services.
  • Whether use of non-HIPAA-compliant video technology should continue to be permitted.

Learn more about MedPAC’s deliberations on telehealth in the Healthcare Dive article “MedPAC commissioners hint at telehealth policies that may stick post-COVID-19” and see the presentation that formed the basis for the discussion of this issue at MedPAC’s recent public meeting.


MedPAC Meets

Last week the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission held two days of public meetings in Washington, D.C.

During the sessions MedPAC, a non-partisan legislative branch agency that advises Congress on Medicare payment issues, addressed the following subjects:

  • a Medicare Advantage status report
  • a Medicare prescription drug program (Part D) status report
  • hospital inpatient and outpatient payments
  • physician payments
  • ambulatory surgical center, dialysis center, and hospice payments
  • post-acute care facility payments
  • the hospital readmissions reduction program
  • telehealth
  • accountable care organizations

Go here to see the issue briefs and presentations used during the meetings.