Monday, July 16, 2018

Feds propose paying doctors more for care via tele-health

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week proposed to pay doctors more for tele-health appointments, which should increase the use of the tool that brings better care to rural areas. "In a lengthy proposed rule, the agency said it would pay doctors for their time when they reach out to beneficiaries via telephone or other telecommunications devices to decide whether an office visit or other service is needed," Virgil Dickson reports for Modern Healthcare. "In addition, the CMS also proposed paying for the time it takes physicians to review a video or image sent by a patient seeking care or diagnosis for an ailment."

CMS also wants to eliminate the requirement for doctors to justify the medical necessity of a home visit instead of an office visit, and may eliminate a policy that prevents payment for same-day visits with several practitioners with the same specialty in a group practice. For rural patients who have a hard time getting to the doctor, all those proposals could help with accessing better care.

"Elsewhere in the rule, the agency plans to continue a controversial site-neutral policy launched in 2018. For the second year in the row, off-campus facilities built after Nov. 2, 2015, will be paid 40 percent of the outpatient rates for the services they provide," Dickson reports. But CMS wants to include some changes to the policy, such as "letting physicians decide whether they want to opt in if they have a low volume of Medicare Part B enrollees or reimbursements and offering a waiver for clinicians who participate in a new Medicare Advantage demonstration."

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