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Medicare Advantage Propose to Expand Patient Access to Telehealth

The CMS proposal would improve patient access to telehealth by increasing reimbursement.

telehealth

By Sara Heath

- CMS has announced plans to modernize Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. Updates will expand patient access to care by adding telehealth as a covered benefit.

The agency says it will update the way it reimburses providers to make it easier for them to receive payment for delivering telehealth services to patients. Specifically, the changes would make it easier for private Medicare Advantage plans to offer telehealth services to patients. The proposal would increase the amount CMS reimburses private Medicare Advantage plans for telehealth services, which would ideally incentivize more of these private plans to offer the benefit to patients.

Telehealth has proven effective for expanding patient access to care. The technology can help connect patients to remote providers or facilitate provider consultations from disparate areas. Ultimately, improving patient access to telehealth services are a part of the Administration’s efforts to strengthen Medicare, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

“President Trump is committed to strengthening Medicare, and an increasing number of seniors are voting with their feet and choosing to receive their Medicare benefits through private plans in Medicare Advantage. Today’s proposed changes would give Medicare Advantage plans more flexibility to innovate in response to patients’ needs,” Verma said in a statement. “I am especially excited about proposed changes to allow additional telehealth benefits, which will promote access to care in a more convenient and cost-effective manner for patients.”

Because 2019 open enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans, the proposal would not immediately impact patients. If passed, the proposal would impact patients accessing 2020 Medicare Advantage Plans.

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