The inclusion of a two-year extension of Medicare telehealth and commercial market telehealth flexibilities will make a huge difference to so many Americans. The Alliance for Connected Care has been calling for predictability for patients and clinicians while continuing to work toward permanent telehealth authorization. This gives us both.

The package includes a two-year extension of widely supported Medicare telehealth services that Congress enacted at the start of the pandemic. This extension will provide certainty to beneficiaries and health care providers, along with continued access to these critical virtual care services, while ensuring sufficient time is taken to analyze the impact of telehealth on patient care throughout the pandemic and beyond.  With the data currently pouring in, we are confident Congress will have the evidence needed to make telehealth permanent in Medicare two years from now.

The package also includes a two-year extension of the flexibility employers and health plans have to provide pre-deductible coverage of telehealth services for individuals and families with high deductible health plans coupled with a health savings accounts (HDHP-HSA). This policy is a game changer for the 32 million Americans who would otherwise have to think twice about out of pocket costs in accessing care.

Overall, a big win for America’s patients and caregivers. Bravo Congress.

Summary of Key Telehealth Provisions:

See here for bill text, press release, and Labor-HHS summary and explanatory statement. Below is a quick analysis of what was included in this package:

  • Sec. 4113: Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 (pg. 3714) – This section provides a two-year extension of the following Medicare telehealth flexibilities through December 31, 2024:
    • Removing Geographic Requirements and Expanding Originating Sites for Telehealth Services
    • Expanding Practitioners Eligible to Furnish Telehealth Services
    • Expanding Telehealth Services for Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics
    • Delaying the In-Person Requirements Under Medicare for Mental Health Services Furnished Through Telehealth and Telecommunications Technology
    • Allowing for the Furnishing of Audio-Only Telehealth Services
    • Use of Telehealth to Conduct Face-to-Face Encounter Prior to Recertification of Eligibility for Hospice Care During Emergency Period
    • Study on Telehealth and Medicare Program Integrity
  • Sec. 4151: Extension of Safe Harbor for Absence of Deductible For Telehealth (pg. 3805) – This section provides a two-year extension of the flexibility allowing employers/plans to provide coverage for telehealth services pre-deductible for individuals with a high-deductible health plan coupled with a health savings account (HDHP-HSA) through December 31, 2024.

For a full summary of telehealth and related provisions in the FY2023 Omnibus package, click here or see below:

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