HomeLatest NewsFederal NewsTelehealth Flexibility Extension Helps Hospice and Palliative Care Among Others

Telehealth Flexibility Extension Helps Hospice and Palliative Care Among Others

According to a recently published article in Hospice News, even after the public health emergency ended, 61% of patients with cancer preferred to receive care virtually siting convenience as the main reason for their preference followed by an appreciation of cost-effectiveness and decreased wait times.

Telehealth flexibilities were enacted during the public health emergency and its use has skyrocketed.  These flexibilities are scheduled to end December 31, 2024, impacting how providers deliver care and how patients receive care. Patients in rural areas are most likely to be negatively affected if telehealth flexibilities are not extended, decreasing their access to much needed care. Many South Dakotans could be impacted.

To avoid the ending of flexibilities, on May 16, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health passed the Telehealth Modernization Act (H.R. 7623) which is supported by many organizations including the American Hospital Association and Leading Age.

LeadingAge’s briefing explains that the bill continues extensions of the telehealth authorities offered during the response to COVID-19 through December 2026.  They include:

  • The originating site of service can be in the Medicare patient’s home.
  • No geographic restrictions for originating site for telehealth services so access to care is still available
  • Allows for audio-only communication platforms.
  • Flexibility around the in-person visit for mental health services
  • Telehealth services can be continued by all eligible Medicare providers.
  • Hospital at Home program would be continued an additional five years.

Hospice specifically will be affected by continuing face to face recertification via telehealth.  However, safety nets have been built in due to the ongoing program integrity concerns for some hospice organization.  For example, those patients who are receiving care from a hospice agency subject to enhanced oversight under §1866(j)(3) would have to recertify patients in person. Read more about that in LeadingAge’s brief here.

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