Friday, May 1, 2020

New CMS Rule Permits Billing for Audio-Only Telehealth Retroactive to March 1

Yesterday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a new rule permitting audio-only telephone care for the following psychiatry codes retroactive to March 1: 90785, 90791, 90792, 90832, 90833, 90834, 90836, 90837, 90838, 90839, 90840, 90845, 90846, 90847, and 90853.

CMS also announced that it will be increasing payments for audio-only telephone visits between Medicare beneficiaries and their physicians to match payments for similar office and outpatient visits. This would increase payments for these services from a range of about $14 to $41 to about $46 to $110, and the payments are retroactive to March 1, 2020. Additional information is posted on the practice guidance page on APA’s COVID-19 Information Hub.

APA had pushed hard for this increased, audio-only access for patients who have older phones that do not have a camera or lack internet access.

“We applaud CMS for taking this step to further increase access to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing for audio-only visits,” said APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H., in a statement. “This allows us to better treat our patients while respecting guidelines on physical distancing. The full impact of the new CMS rule change is not fully known, so we are continuing to evaluate its implications for our member physicians.”

Added APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A.: “APA will continue to advocate for increased access to mental health care during this public health emergency. We commend every action by CMS to increase access to telehealth so that our patients can access vital psychiatric services.”

Many telehealth regulations have been temporarily lifted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help APA understand the implications on your practice and access to care for your patients, please click here to fill out a short survey. APA will use the answers to develop member resources and for our advocacy initiatives.

Now in Psychiatric News

Psychiatric News continues to report on what the COVID-19 pandemic means for psychiatrists and the patients they serve. We will highlight these articles for you as they become available online:

COVID-19 Pandemic Is Taking MH Toll, Finds APA Poll

From the Front Line: Trainees’ Perspective on Providing Care During COVID-19 Pandemic


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