On July 23, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) declaration for another 90 days, lasting now until October 21, 2020. PHE status allows many of the waivers and expansions for telehealth that have occurred since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020 to remain active.
Significant telehealth expansions provided under the public health emergency include:
- Removal of geographic and facility site limitations in Medicare;
- Additional providers allowed to bill Medicare for telehealth delivered services, including federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics;
- Allowance to utilize audio-only phone for some services and receive reimbursement through Medicare;
- Allowance to use live video to prescribe controlled substances without an in-person exam or falling under a list of narrow exceptions; and
- Enforcement discretion on HIPAA violations for use of commonplace remote communication technologies.