Three-dozen organizations have urged congressional leaders to make permanent the reforms the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made to expedite health care during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis
The May 12 letter, drafted by Americans for Prosperity, which The Heartland Institute and the Goodman Institute for Public Policy, the publishers of Health Care News, signed, singles out four policies: telehealth, professional licensing, physician supervision, and patient privacy.
“These waivers are saving people’s lives right now and they will save people’s lives in the next crisis, too,” the letter states.
In telehealth, CMS has begun reimbursing providers for virtual visits, both those done in real time and in a practice known as “store and forward” in which videos and images can be shared with other physicians.
The number of virtual visits in the United States grew from 10,000 to 300,000 a week by the end of March.
The CMS also relaxed restrictions on physicians, nurse practitioners, and occupational therapists to allow them to practice across state lines and at the full capacity of their licenses. In addition, the centers eliminated the requirement for a physician’s signoff on home health services and plans of care, and it eased up on privacy protections under HIPAA that prevented provider-patient communication in Web platforms such as Skype and FaceTime.
Letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Leader Mitch McConnell, Leader Kevin McCarthy, Leader Charles Schumer on making permanent, changes to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid regulations, May 12, 2020: https://www.heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/letter-to-congressional-leaders-on-making-permanent-cms-regulatory-changes