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HomeHealth LawTelehealth in a Put up-PHE World

Telehealth in a Put up-PHE World

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The once-novel medium of telehealth surged onto the stage as a typical sense answer to the COVID-19 pandemic. This surge was facilitated, partially, by sure flexibilities licensed by the Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Providers in its response to the general public well being emergency (“PHE”) declared in March of 2020 and which was repeatedly renewed till now. On January 30, 2023, President Joe Biden introduced that the PHE would finish on Could 11, 2023. Because the curtains are drawn on the PHE, there may be little question that telehealth is right here to remain. In mild of that actuality, it’s important that members within the telehealth house perceive what flexibilities will stay in play.

On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed into legislation the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (the “Act”),[1] a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending invoice meant to fund the U.S. federal authorities. Among the many Act’s many provisions are sure measures that reach the telehealth flexibilities introduced within the early days of the PHE by the tip of 2024. The extensions afforded by the Act are all of the extra vital now that the PHE is ready to run out within the coming months.

By the use of instance, among the most vital flexibilities to be prolonged embody:

  • Definition of “Originating Web site”: The Act extends the definition of “originating web site” to imply any web site within the U.S., together with the house of a person.[2] An “originating web site” is the placement at which the telehealth eligible particular person is situated on the time the service is furnished through a telecommunications system.[3]
  • Definition of “Practitioner”: The Act extends the definition of “practitioner” to additionally embody a certified occupational therapist, certified bodily therapist, a certified speech-language pathologist, and a certified audiologist.[4] Previous to the PHE, a “practitioner” was restricted to a doctor assistant, nurse practitioner, medical nurse specialist, licensed registered nurse anesthetist, licensed nurse-midwife, medical social employee, medical psychologist, and registered dietitian or vitamin skilled.[5]
  • RHC and FQHC Telehealth Providers: The Act extends the authorization for Rural Well being Clinics (“RHCs”) and Federally Certified Well being Facilities (“FQHCs”) to offer and reimburse for telehealth providers.[6]
  • In-Individual Go to Requirement for Telehealth Psychological Well being Providers: The Act delays the reimbursement requirement for physicians and practitioners to conduct in-person exams inside six months earlier than an preliminary telehealth service for functions of prognosis, analysis, or therapy of a psychological well being dysfunction till January 1, 2025, or the primary day after the tip of the PHE, whichever date happens later.[7]
  • Audio-Solely Telehealth: The Act gives that telehealth providers furnished utilizing audio-only telecommunications expertise will proceed to be lined and reimbursable.[8]
  • Recertification of Eligibility for Hospice Care: The Act extends the permissible use of telehealth for conducting face-to-face encounters previous to recertification of eligibility for hospice care.[9]
  • HDHP/HSA Secure Harbor for Telehealth Providers: For plan years starting between December 31, 2022 and January 1, 2025, the Act extends the power of well being financial savings account-qualifying high-deductible well being plans to cowl telehealth providers on a pre-deductible foundation.[10]

Key Takeaways

Though many telehealth flexibilities will proceed effectively into 2024, telehealth suppliers are nonetheless underneath heightened scrutiny as outlined within the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Providers Workplace of Inspector Common Particular Fraud Alert issued in July 2022, which urged practitioners to train warning when getting into telemedicine preparations.[11] It’s extra vital than ever that telehealth suppliers be aware of their compliance obligations as they transition to a post-PHE world. Please observe that Sheppard Mullin will proceed to watch developments and supply updates as they come up. Suppliers with questions or looking for counsel might contact a member of the Sheppard Mullin Healthcare Group.

FOOTNOTES

[1] H.R. 2617, 117th Congr. (2022).

[2] H.R. 2617 § 4113(a)(2).

[3] 42 U.S.C. § 1395m(m)(4)(C).

[4] H.R. 2617 § 4113(b).

[5] 42 U.S.C. 1395m(m)(4)(E).

[6] H.R. 2617 § 4113(c).

[7] H.R. 2617 § 4113(d)(1).

[8] H.R. 2617 § 4113(e).

[9] H.R. 2617 § 4113(f).

[10] H.R. 2617 § 4151.

[11] Particular Fraud Alert: OIG Alerts Practitioners To Train Warning When Coming into Into Preparations with Purported Telemedicine Firms, out there at Particular Fraud Alert–Telefraud (hhs.gov); see additionally Latest Developments in Telehealth Enforcement, out there at Latest Developments in Telehealth Enforcement | Healthcare Regulation Weblog (sheppardhealthlaw.com).

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