On July 19, 2021, Xavier Becerra renewed the Public Health Emergency for 90 days starting July 20. The move by the Secretary of Health & Human Services signals the federal government's intention to extend regulatory relaxations associated with telemedicine delivery and reimbursement into the fall. The Biden administration has stated that the PHE will not expire before the end of the year and that a minimum of 60 days' notice will be given prior to its conclusion. While the renewal clears the deck for Medicare delivery and reimbursement for another 90 days, several key payers have signaled a long-term commitment to telemedicine. Cigna, for example, announced that payment for telemedicine will be at the same rate as an in-person visit. However, in reading the fine print from Cigna, United, Aetna, and other payers, there are statements about payment for "certain" services, only if the plan offers coverage, and deferring to state law. In other words, telemedicine is here to stay, but don't be surprised about the checkerboard of payment policies that is under construction.
Elizabeth Woodcock is the founder and principal of Woodcock & Associates. She has focused on medical practice operations and revenue cycle management for more than 25 years. She has led educational sessions for a multitude of national professional associations and specialty societies, and consulted for clients as diverse as a solo orthopaedic surgeon in rural Georgia to the Mayo Clinic. She is author or co-author of 17 best-selling practice management books, to include Mastering Patient Flow and The Physician Billing Process: Avoiding Potholes in the Road to Getting Paid. Elizabeth is a Fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives and a Certified Professional Coder. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University, she completed a Master of Business Administration in healthcare management from The Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a doctoral student at the Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University.
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