New CMS Waivers Eliminate ‘All Barriers’ to Telehealth in Skilled Nursing Facilities

April 1, 2020

As part of a sweeping set of waivers announced late Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded its efforts to cut restrictions on telehealth — essentially removing any last roadblock that providers would face to offering virtual interventions at nursing homes.

By allowing providers to perform initial and discharge services remotely, and by waiving a requirement that telehealth visits in skilled nursing visits occur only every 30 days, CMS succeeded in “essentially eliminating all barriers and adding services in other sites of care to the telehealth list,” according to a Tuesday statement from AMDA, the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Crucially, those waivers will be retroactive to March 1, so providers can bill for any such services that they may have provided at any point this month.

“The Society has long advocated for the once-a-month restriction on subsequent care codes 99307-99310 to be eliminated, and we have been particularly vocal about it in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” AMDA executive director Christopher Laxton said in a statement, referring to the specific billing codes related to SNF telehealth services. “We are pleased that CMS has listened to our concerns and removed this barrier and others. It will provide greater access to care, and significantly safer care, for clinicians and their patients during this trying time.”