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Category: end of the public health emergency

What the End of the PHE Means for Telehealth Policy

The Biden administration announced plans to end the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023, which carries implications for telehealth policy.

The announcement came on the heels of the December 2022 passing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, the 2023 omnibus spending bill that extends many – but not all – of the telehealth flexibilities introduced during the pandemic.

In light of these developments, here is a breakdown of how the telehealth policy roadmap is shaping up for the next two years.

Permanent Telehealth Changes for Medicare Patients

Temporary Telehealth Extensions
(Through December 31, 2024)

Telehealth Flexibilities Expiring at the End of the PHE
(Through May 11, 2023)

These changes focus on putting safeguards around telehealth. Additional regulatory efforts are expected ahead of the waiver extension expiration on December 31, 2024.

In the meantime, two additional questions remain on the future of telehealth:

1) How will interstate telehealth services play out when temporary geographic flexibilities expire at the end of 2024?

Interstate telehealth services were temporarily allowed across state lines during the PHE, waiving state licensure requirements. As of February 7, 2023, 21 U.S. states have solidified interstate telehealth as a permanent or long-term option. You can learn more about state-by-state variation in telemedicine restrictions here.

2) Will payment parity for home-based telehealth services stick beyond 2023?

Flexibilities introduced during the pandemic reimburse telehealth visits with patients at home at a rate that is on par with in-person visits. As Healthcare Finance News reports, the current telehealth payment parity runs through the end of 2023. The annual physician fee schedule set by CMS will determine whether payment parity for home-based telehealth services will be extended into 2024. The 2024 draft proposal is anticipated in July 2023. Among commercial insurers, it’s estimated that roughly half of U.S. states have passed payment parity laws.

Additional Recommended Reading:
Telehealth Policy Updates