October 29, 2020

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Provide Medicare Reimbursement for Home Health Agencies’ Delivery of Telehealth Services During Public Health Emergencies

On October 23, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Home Health Emergency Access to Telehealth Act (“HEAT Act”).  On the same day, Representatives Roger Marshall (R-KS), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Jodey Arrington (R-TX), and Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced a companion bill in the House.  In response to COVID-19, the HEAT Act would authorize Medicare reimbursement for home health services provided through telehealth, where telehealth can be used appropriately.  Telehealth services will be reimbursed only if the beneficiary consents to receive services through a telehealth platform.  To avoid overreliance on telehealth delivery, reimbursement will only be provided if telehealth services constitute no more than 50 percent of the billable visits made in a 30-day payment period. The bill calls HHS to promulgate regulations to apply to home health services delivered through telehealth systems and consider the following: standards for the content of orders and patient consent for such services; documentation of such services provided and billing units of such services; the nature and level of resources utilized for such services provided via video or audio telecommunication systems for purposes of determining equivalency with in-person visits in establishing the payment for such services; and standards to ensure program integrity and prevent the incidence of fraud, waste, and abuse with respect to such services.