The global COVID-19 crisis has led to many changes in health care rules, including in the Medicare program. Most of the Medicare changes are slated to be temporary, but advocates will need to watch which provisions do and do not remain after the crisis. While a many of the changes affect health care providers, including payment and waivers of certain requirements, our Advocates Guide focuses on Medicare COVID changes that relate to beneficiaries and their access to covered care. Note: This Advocates Guide describes, but does not analyze or critique these changes.
Note: shortly after the latest update of this Guide, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a new Interim Final Rule on April 30, 2020 (to be published in the Federal Register on May 8, 2020). We are in the process of incorporating these changes in the next update to this Advocates Guide, including the following provisions that are not reflected in the current April 29 update:
Physical, speech and occupational therapists can now provide telehealth services;
List of services that can be provided to individuals who only have audio phone capabilities has been expanded to include many behavioral health and patient education services;
CMS is waiving the video requirement for certain telephone evaluation and management services, and adding them to the list of Medicare telehealth services; and
Medicare beneficiaries will no longer require an order from the treating physician or other practitioners in order to get a coronavirus diagnostic test.