The 2024 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) rule brings positive news for telehealth, allowing higher non-facility rates for telehealth visits from January 1, 2024. It aligns with pandemic-era policies, contrary to recommendations, treating telehealth care on par with in-office care. The rule permits providers to use practice addresses for telehealth services, addressing privacy concerns. Provisions from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, lift geographic restrictions, expand practitioner types, and delay in-person visit requirements. Rural clinics receive telehealth payments, and new services like well-being coaching are added. These changes extend most pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities until the end of 2024, fostering transformative healthcare delivery.
The 2024 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) rule has been released, bringing a mix of news for the healthcare industry. Telehealth advocates have reason to celebrate as the final rule cements various pandemic-era telehealth allowances, including higher non-facility rates for telehealth visits, effective from January 1, 2024.
One significant change is the decision to pay telehealth providers the non-facility rate for services delivered in patients’ homes, aligning with the telehealth-related flexibilities extended through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, of 2023. This move contradicts the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s recommendation to revert to lower facility rates for telehealth after the public health emergency.
Before the pandemic, clinicians offering telehealth services were paid the lower facility-based rate, regardless of location. However, during the pandemic, CMS adjusted policies to consider the clinician’s location for both in-person and telehealth services. The recent rule solidifies telehealth payment policies, treating telehealth care as equivalent to in-office care, a decision applauded by associations like the AMGA, representing 400 medical groups and health systems.
Additionally, the final rule allows providers offering telehealth services from their homes to use their practice address instead of their home address on Medicare enrollment forms until the end of 2024. This addresses concerns raised by organizations like the American Hospital Association and the American Telemedicine Association about privacy and security risks associated with reporting home addresses.
Furthermore, the rule implements provisions from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, of 2023, removing geographic restrictions on originating sites for telehealth services, expanding the range of telehealth practitioners, and delaying the in-person visit requirement before telemental health visits. Rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers will continue to receive payment for telehealth services.
For CY 2024, health and well-being coaching services will be temporarily added to the Medicare Telehealth Services List, and Social Determinants of Health Risk Assessments will be permanently included. CMS has also finalized proposals allowing diabetes self-management training services via telehealth and permitting teaching physicians to be present during Medicare telehealth services furnished by residents through the end of 2024.
These developments mark a significant milestone, extending most pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities until the close of 2024, paving the way for transformative changes in healthcare delivery.