The American Telemedicine Association Responds to CMS Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule That Further Supports Access to Telehealth Services

WASHINGTON, DC, NOVEMBER 16, 2021 – In response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) annual Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) final rule issued on November 2, 2021, further supporting access to telehealth services, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) issued the following statement:

“We are encouraged to see this final PFS reflects CMS’ continued interest in ensuring access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries,” said Kyle Zebley, Vice President of Public Policy, the ATA. “This final rule underscores the critical role virtual care plays in our healthcare system and we commend the administration for its important efforts to ensure telehealth services are positioned to provide patients quality care.”

Based on guidance outlined in the ATA’s comments on the proposed rule, CMS exercised its regulatory authority to address barriers that would affect access to telemental health services, allowing beneficiaries to continue using these services without requiring a continual 6-month in-person visit. This final rule also permits the use of audio-only technologies for telemental health services, including services provided by federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics.

“While we appreciate this final rule’s improvement over the proposed rule, we urge Congress to remove arbitrary in-person requirements that limit access to essential telemental health services,” said Zebley. “The ATA strongly supports the Telemental Health Care Access Act (S. 2061, H.R.4058) to eliminate unnecessary barriers to care and protect patient access.”

Reacting to CMS extending Category 3 codes for temporary telehealth services through 2023, Zebley added, “We are pleased that the Category 3 codes remain in place to ensure continued coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, though we recognize restrictions will be implemented if the public health emergency ends despite the provisions in the PFS. The ATA supports comprehensive telehealth reform bills, such as the CONNECT for Health Act (S. 1512, H.R. 2903), to maintain access to telehealth services beyond the public health emergency.”

As part of this final rule, CMS stated the agency is committed to working with stakeholders to improve access to remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) services moving forward.

“Although we are disappointed CMS did not act on some of the industry’s recommendations related to RTM services, we look forward to working with the agency to identify solutions to support patient access, including extending to RTM the regulatory flexibilities that were recently allowed for remote patient monitoring.”

Click here to access the ATA’s Summary of Telehealth Policy Changes in the PFS.

About the ATA

As the only organization completely focused on advancing telehealth, the American Telemedicine Association is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to safe, affordable, and appropriate care when and where they need it, enabling the system to do more good for more people. The ATA represents a broad and inclusive member network of leading healthcare delivery systems, academic institutions, technology solution providers and payers, as well as partner organizations and alliances, working to advance industry adoption of telehealth, promote responsible policy, advocate for government and market normalization, and provide education and resources to help integrate virtual care into emerging value-based delivery models. @americantelemed #telehealthishealth

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Gina Cella
Cella Communications