On July 27, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4040, Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID–19 Act of 2021 (“ATBCA”), which is set to extend Medicare coverage of telehealth services until December 31, 2024. The ATBCA builds on the Secretary of HHS’ declaration of the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency (“PHE”), which authorized CMS to suspend geographic and originating site restrictions, among other waivers of existing barriers to Medicare coverage of remote and at-home care, in order to cover telehealth services under Medicare.
Initially, Medicare’s expansions of coverage were set to expire with the end of the PHE ongoing declaration, which has been renewed each term and is currently set to expire on October 15. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, enacted on March 15, extended Medicare’s waivers of telehealth restrictions for 151 days after the PHE declaration expires.
The ATBCA would decouple Medicare authorization to cover telehealth services from the ongoing PHE declaration by extending such authorization through December 31, 2024. Notably, the House showed almost unanimous, bipartisan support for passing the ATBCA bill by a 416-12 vote. The Senate received the ATBCA and referred it to the Committee on Finance.