A new toolkit for states can speed adoption of broader telehealth coverage policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the State Medicaid & CHIP Telehealth Toolkit supports state policymakers’ efforts to expand the use of telehealth services in Medicaid programs.
In response to the pandemic, at the end of March, CMS expanded access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries and nursing home residents.
The new toolkit aggregates information and highlights questions that states may ask themselves when establishing new telehealth policy. The guide is intended to help states identify which aspects of their statutory and regulatory infrastructure may impede the rapid deployment of telehealth capabilities in their Medicaid program.
It helps states evaluate issues such as these:

  • Patient populations eligible for telehealth: Federal rules allow Medicaid services to be delivered via telehealth across all populations. The toolkit will help states identify restrictions on telehealth eligibility, like only allowing coverage for beneficiaries who live in rural areas. 
  • Coverage and reimbursement policies: While telehealth may not be appropriate for all services, states should review services even if they have not traditionally been delivered in such a manner. For example, some states may have only allowed behavioral health services to be delivered through telehealth. Medicaid reimbursement rates also need to be adequate to facilitate care delivered through telehealth. Not all states have provided reimbursement parity with face to face encounters.
  • Providers and practitioners eligible to provide telehealth: The toolkit will help states to evaluate whether state practice acts or regulations limit the ability for certain providers to deliver services through telehealth.
  • Technology requirements: The dominant form of telehealth is generally thought of as two-way audio/visual communication, or a video chat. However, telehealth is much broader than this since other forms have always existed alongside what some people consider standard telehealth, such as remote patient monitoring, etc.    

Ensuring that older adults can safely receive the care they need at home minimizes travel to healthcare facilities and supports efforts to limit community spread of the virus.  

To learn more, watch this 16-minute QuickCast as CAST Executive Director Majd Alwan, Ph.D., offers an overview of the recent CMS payment policies and regulatory flexibilities for Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring during COVID-19.

If you are looking to implement telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) at your facility, check out the Telehealth and RPM Selection Tool by LeadingAge CAST. It will help you to understand your options and narrow selections to tools that are right for your organization.

Please also take the LeadingAge CAST COVID-19 Telehealth Pulse Survey to let us know about your use of telehealth in response to the pandemic.