POSTED ON MONDAY, June 29, 2020 

CMS released a proposed payment rule for 2021 last week and included is making the recent changes to telehealth permanent even after the pandemic is over.  Translation, beginning January 1, 2021 home health agencies “can continue to utilize telecommunications technologies in providing care to beneficiaries under the Medicare home health benefit beyond the COVID-19 PHE, as long as the telecommunications technology is related to the skilled services being furnished, is outlined on the plan of care, and is tied to a specific goal indicating how such use would facilitate treatment outcomes.

The use of technology may not substitute for an in-person home visit that is ordered on the plan of care and cannot be considered a visit for the purpose of patient eligibility or payment; however, the use of technology may result in changes to the frequencies and types of in-person visits as ordered on the plan of care. This rule also proposes to allow HHAs to continue to report the costs of telecommunications technology as allowable administrative costs on the home health agency cost report beyond the PHE for the COVID-19 pandemic. “

Medicare home health payments would increase in aggregate by 2.6%, or $540M, according to the proposed rule.

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