Limits on telehealth will stay, CMS says

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Medicare will stick with reimbursing only one telehealth visit per month for skilled nursing facility residents, according to a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

The proposed physician fee schedule for 2014 seeks to expand telehealth in other healthcare settings. 

Medicare beneficiaries can be covered for one telehealth visit per 30-day period for subsequent skilled nursing facility services under current regulations. The American Telemedicine Association asked CMS to remove this limitation, citing new studies and plans to create a national broadband network dedicated to healthcare.

But the studies cited by the association do not provide persuasive evidence that more frequent telehealth visits would benefit SNF residents, according to CMS.

Telehealth is appropriate for SNF inpatients if it enables “appropriately frequent, medically reasonable and necessary encounters with their admitting practitioner,” the proposed rule states. 

However, if the current limits are removed, telehealth may be used too frequently, compromising care for “this potentially acute and complex” population.