Federal and state leaders have dramatically expanded access to telehealth during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Please find below an index of top resources offered by the Alliance for Connected Care followed by some additional background information.
Federal Policy Changes and Guidance During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency:
- COVID-19 Telehealth Legislation Tracker
- Medicare Guidance
- Medicaid Guidance
- Commercial Health Plan Guidance
- Telehealth Guidance Documents for Employee Benefits Plans
- CDC Guidance – Using Telehealth to Expand Access to Essential Health Services during COVID-19
- Other Federal Telehealth Guidance
- Fraud and Anti-kickback Regulations
- Rural Health Clinics/Federally Qualified Health Centers
- Prescribing of Controlled Substances
- Remote Patient Monitoring
- HIPAA Privacy and Security
- Clinical Laboratories
- The Coronavirus Task Force launched telehealth.hhs.gov. Link to video.
State Policy Changes During the Public Health Emergency:
Alliance Webinar Recordings:
Secretary Azar used his authority under the Public Health Service Act to declare a public health emergency across the entire United States on January 31, 2020 giving HHS additional emergency powers to respond to the coronavirus. On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency, unlocking additional powers, under section 1135 of the Social Security Act.
On March 5, Congress passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, waiving restrictions on telehealth in Medicare fee-for-service to enable more seniors to access care from the safety of their own homes during the public health emergency.
On March 21, Congress subsequently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, providing even greater flexibility for telehealth services.
HHS has used these new powers to unleash a wide array of changes aimed at increasing access to telehealth. Please find them outlined at the pages above.
Responding to the public health emergency, the governors of forty-eight states, including D.C. have waived – to varying extents – state licensure laws in order to facilitate cross-border care, sometimes explicitly including telehealth. In addition, several states have requested flexibility to incent greater use of telehealth through Medicaid Section 1135 Waivers. Some have also used powers granted under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact for telehealth.
Key Definitions and Things to Know:
Telehealth is defined as the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration. Technologies include video conferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.
Telehealth applications include:
- Live (synchronous) videoconferencing: a two-way audiovisual link between a patient and a care provider
- Store-and-forward (asynchronous) videoconferencing: transmission of recorded health history to a health practitioner, usually a specialist.
- Remote patient monitoring (RPM): the use of connected electronic tools to record personal health and medical data in one location for review by a provider in another location, usually at a different time.
- Mobile health (mHealth): health care and public health information provided through mobile devices. The information may include general educational information, targeted texts, and notifications about disease outbreaks.
The Alliance for Connected Care continues to engage with Congress, the Administration, and state governments around telehealth expansion during the public health emergency.