Like many of you, the Amputee Coalition is monitoring COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) as it continues to evolve day by day. As a nonprofit health advocacy organization, we want to communicate and engage on emerging health news responsibly. We realize that many of you are experiencing apprehension in going to routine healthcare visits. Some offices may even be closed currently. Telehealth is defined as the use of technology to deliver health care, health information, or health education at a distance. We have compiled some resources below regarding the expansion and coverage of telehealth services.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed on March 27, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Among the key takeaways related to telehealth are the following:
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has lifted many restrictions on the use of telemedicine. Medicare has greatly expanded access to telehealth. Some of the areas of expansion include:
- Patients in all settings, including their homes, and across the entire country, not just in rural areas, can receive telehealth
- Physicians may provide telehealth services to new and established Medicare
- Consent for telehealth services may be obtained by staff or the practitioner at any time, required only once on an annual
- Physicians in one state can provide services to Medicare beneficiaries in another
- Physicians can now provide audio-only telephone evaluations and management visits for new and established patients who may not have internet access or a smart
- Physicians can now provide more services to beneficiaries via telehealth, including emergency department View a complete list of telehealth services.
- Practitioners such as licensed clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists will have expanded access to telehealth, virtual check-ins, e-visits, and telephone calls during the COVID-19
- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will permit physicians to prescribe controlled substances based on telehealth visits during the State laws apply.
- Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) may furnished Medicare telehealth FQHCs include community health centers, migrant health centers, healthcare for the homeless, and health centers for residents of public housing.
- Rural Health Clinics (RHC) also may furnish Medicare telehealth
- You can find a full list of Medicare covered telehealth services for the COVID-19 pandemic here.
- State Medicaid Programs and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP)
- Medicaid and CHIP programs, while partially federally funded, are administered by each state. The federal government has encouraged each state to take advantage of the broad flexibility to deliver services via telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. You will need to contact your state to see what provisions they have made for telehealth coverage under your Medicaid or CHIP plan.
- Private Insurance
- Several health plans have announced that they will make telehealth more widely available or offer telehealth services for free during the COVID-19 pandemic. You will need to contact your private insurance provider to determine what telehealth services are covered
Your O&P Care
The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) has reviewed the individual state orders closing “non-essential” businesses until further notice and determined O&P facilities exempt from the orders. AOPA expects that O&P facilities will continue to be exempt. While exempt, AOPA is urging its member facilities to carefully consider all factors when making decisions regarding the continuing of operations during COVID-19. Each provider and clinic will make the decision on how they proceed with care. You will need to contact your O&P provider to determine what their current policies are regarding their operations and if a telehealth option in available.
- American Medical Association COVID-19 Telehealth Fact Sheet
- American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
It is not the intention of the Amputee Coalition to provide specific medical or legal advice but rather to provide consumers with information to better understand their health and healthcare issues. The Amputee Coalition does not endorse any specific treatment, technology, company, service or device. Consumers are urged to consult with their healthcare providers for specific medical advice or before making any purchasing decisions involving their care.
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