In December of 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) increased payment for time spent with patients, including those with chronic conditions like asthma. Rather than spending unnecessary time on paperwork, physicians can now spend more time on treatment and diagnosis. The CMS annual Physician Fee Schedule also prioritizes the expansion of healthcare alternatives such as telehealth.

Finalizing Telehealth Expansion And Improving Rural Health

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), CMS has added almost 150 new telehealth services covered by Medicare through the end of the PHE. The purpose of these additions is safe access to important health care services in the midst of a health crisis. These additional services have resulted in 24.5 million out of 63 million beneficiaries receiving Medicare telemedicine services during the current pandemic. 

These additional services have greatly improved rural health and Telehealth access by adding more than 60 services to Medicare’s telehealth list. As more data is gathered, the goal is to increase the number of services offered. 

CMS is also exploring new methods of virtual care and remote monitoring. Identifying how these methods can be used more effectively will bring greater care to the patients and enhance the overall integrity of the program. Whether being treated at the hospital, or at home, the goal is quality medical care. 

Payment For Office/Outpatient Evaluation And Management And Comparable Visits

As the Medicare population grows, so does the complexity of beneficiary healthcare needs. More than two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries possess two or more chronic conditions, such as Asthma. To account for this growth, CMS has increased payment rates for face-to-face evaluation. These payment rates support clinicians as they spend time coordinating care for patients, especially those with crucial health issues such as dementia. 

Additionally, CMS has worked to simplify coding and document changes for Medicare-related billing. These changes serve to modernize documentation and drastically reduce the burden for all clinicians. This simplification allows clinicians to have more discretion when choosing the beneficiaries’ visit level. These changes are projected to save clinicians upwards of 2.3 million hours annually, freeing clinicians up to spend more time with their patients. 

Professional Scope of Practice And Supervision

The Trump Administrations has worked to cut red tape in order to allow healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients instead of working on paperwork. Through the COVID-19 PHE, non-physician practitioners are able to provide the care they were trained and licensed to provide, without dealing with additional restrictions imposed by the Medicare program. 

CMS has specifically finalized changes such as:

  • Non-physicians practitioners such as nurses and physician assistants can now supervise diagnostic tests that fit within their scope of practice and state laws. 
  • Physical therapists can now delegate ongoing care to a therapy assistant.
  • Physical therapists who bill Medicare directly can now review information entered into the patient’s record by other members of the clinical team.

To find out more about the expansion of Medicare Telehealth services, you can read the whole article here.

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