Recent public health emergency declarations, along with new legislative authority granted to HHS, gave the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) broad authority to waive regulatory requirements and expand telehealth services in the Medicare Program through the duration of public health emergency. While this new authority is time-limited, the use of telehealth in the COVID-19 public health emergency provides a natural experiment in the widespread application and adoption of telehealth within the Medicare Program. However, a permanent expansion of relaxed telehealth requirements will depend on a variety of factors that will require careful consideration by CMS and Congress as more data on telehealth use in the Medicare Program become available, and the relative value-add of increased telehealth use becomes clearer.
This brief explores,
- which changes would require further Congressional action in order to extend them or make them permanent;
- which changes CMS could use its existing authority to make permanent; and
- how CMS is likely to consider the relative value of telehealth services as compared to in-person care when considering which telehealth flexibilities to consider for expansion.