Eleven new services have been added to the list of telehealth services reimbursed by Medicare fee-for-service during the COVID-19 health emergency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Wednesday.
Many of the new services involve cardiovascular care, including intensive cardiac rehabilitation with and without exercise, pulmonary rehab with exercise, and in-person ventricular assist device interrogation. Certain neurostimulator implant analysis and programming services will also be covered.
Medicare immediately will begin paying eligible practitioners who provide these newly added telehealth services, and for the duration of the public health emergency, CMS reported. The full list now includes 144 services, including nursing facility visits.
More than 36% of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries have received a telemedicine service between mid-March and mid-August, the agency noted.
The federal government in March dramatically expanded telehealth, widening payment coverage and relaxing HIPAA rules in response to difficulties navigating office visits following pandemic shelter-in-place orders.
Meanwhile, the new coverage may help cover care related to COVID-19 outcomes. Heart damage appears to be a lasting effect of COVID-19 infections, even in relatively mild cases, according to clinical anecdote and new research.