AHA calls for telehealth flexibilities to be made permanent

August 24, 2020

The call comes in a letter addressed directly to President Donald J. Trump.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) is calling on President Donald J. Trump to make permanent telehealth flexibilities introduced as part of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The call comes in a letter addressed directly to Trump sent Aug. 19. It says that the flexibilities put in place by the U.S. Department of Health and human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have allowed hospitals to help their communities by increasing access to virtual visits ensuring that only those who absolutely require in-person visits must leave their homes for medical care.

“Patients have been empowered by this flexibility to seek and receive virtual care at all of the places they can currently access in-person care, including hospital outpatient departments,” the letter says. “They have found that the convenience, quality and ease of receiving care in this manner helps accommodate their individual needs and lifestyles, creating a more patient-centered care experience.”

Due to this, the association calls on the administration to recognize hospitals as telehealth providers by allowing them to also code and bill for virtual services. The other flexibilities the AHA is calling on HHS and CMS to make permanent include:

  • Expanding the list of Medicare telehealth services to include services that were added during the pandemic and maintain the sub-regulatory process for adding additional services
  • Allowing virtual check-ins and e-visits to be used for new and established patients
  • Allowing remote patient monitoring to be used for new and established patients and for acute and chronic conditions
  • Allowing direct supervision to be provided using real-time, interactive audio and video technology

The letter also calls on HHS and CMS to make it possible for hospitals to provide telehealth services at the same time as services are furnished, hospitals should be able to retain the ability to capture diagnoses impacting risk adjustment during telehealth visits, and CMS and HHS should develop a mechanism to cover and pay for audio-only telehealth services.