Billing for Medicare/CMS for Remote Visits
Typically Medicare does not pay for Physical Therapy visits done remotely. However, in the wake of COVID-10, CMS has issued waivers during the emergency and based on the most recent guidance, this appears to cover Physical Therapy Visits across the entire Country, not just rural areas. Please note that this is a temporary order, it’s not clear how long it will last.
CMS is expanding this benefit on a temporary and emergency basis under the 1135 waiver authority and Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.
It’s important to note that Medicare still doesn’t cover PT Telehealth but they do cover what they call “e-visits”. E-visits are NOT telehealth. With that said, these are interactions that you can perform remotely. Allowing these remote interactions is a step in the right direction. It may be splitting hairs but Medicare always has their own terminology.
Key takeaways, according to Medicare. This is really important:
There are also many other unknowns such as how much will be paid on these codes and if any modifiers need to be applied. Based on the information available it does not appear that these reimbursements will take the place of regular in-person visits for providing care or in terms of revenue for practices – but it’s something.
Putting Medicare E-Visits (and other efforts towards telehealth) in Place
1) We strongly suggest that you work with a HIPAA compliant platform though Medicare seems to hint that you could use a Skype or a Facetime type product if you wanted:
2) Continue to document thoroughly in your EMR all visits including those provided over a telemedicine/telehealth platform. As this is a very new change for PTs, OTs, and SLPs – documentation is paramount.
The Bottom Line
Things are evolving very quickly and we will continue to provide updates as the information becomes available.