Congress Passes Coronavirus Funding Package, Including Waiving Some Medicare Telehealth Restrictions

March 5, 2020
Policy Snapshot

Congress has passed a coronavirus emergency spending bill that includes provisions waiving certain Medicare telehealth restrictions during the public health emergency. The waivers let qualified Medicare providers offer telehealth services during a coronavirus national emergency to beneficiaries they have seen within the past three years. The services could be offered in geographic areas where such an emergency has been declared.

The bill waives originating site requirements so that beneficiaries can receive the care they need at home. It also waives restrictions on using telephones for such services, provided the phones have audio and video capabilities and are used for “two-way, real-time interactive communication.” The bill also would allow Medicare providers to offer telehealth services to beneficiaries regardless of whether they are in a rural community. The waiver also stated that HHS “may implement the amendments made by this subsection by program instruction or otherwise.”

It's unclear if any of the waivers will include lifting the 30-day limit on telehealth visits to skilled nursing facilities at this time.

Click here for a summary of the coronavirus emergency funding.

Click here for the full text version of the coronavirus emergency funding.