Last week, Congress passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Appropriations Act. This provides both authority and supplemental funding to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak. $8.3 billion in emergency funding has been allocated for efforts that will reduce the spread of the virus. This includes providing supplies and the expansion of the availability of telehealth visits. The act also waives current restrictions around telehealth service reimbursement.

Providers are now able to provide services without Medicare’s geographic restrictions. This opens the ability to make use of telehealth services to any area designated as an “emergency area.” Your practice will be able to bill these virtual visits to Medicare during the outbreak. These provisions also lift restrictions around using a phone for virtual visits. That, however, is dependent upon the phones being used having audio-visual capabilities.

These provisions improve access to care during the outbreak. Using virtual visits will limit the risk of person-to-person spread of the virus. This is especially important for senior and otherwise immunocompromised patients as well as for healthcare professionals providing treatment. Practices can use telehealth visits to continue business operations without the risk of exposing other patients to the virus.