ALEXANDRIA, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In collaboration with medical groups and independent practice associations from across the country, the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) has issued a letter urging Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, to reduce the regulatory burden on physician practices by supporting audio-only telehealth services.
Clinicians have embraced the use of telemedicine during the COVID-19 outbreak, providing critical care for their patients while mitigating the spread of the disease. As stay-at-home orders were declared across the country, CMS has taken numerous steps to expand the use of telehealth to meet patient needs, including sweeping waivers and reimbursement changes in traditional Medicare. On April 10, 2020, the agency announced that diagnoses made during telehealth visits may now be submitted for risk adjustment purposes.
AMGA and its members applaud CMS for providing necessary regulatory relief for physician practices and their patients. However, the agency’s requirement that telehealth services be provided via live, audiovisual telecommunications remains a significant barrier for patients and physicians during the pandemic. A major component of telehealth services are audio-based services, or care provided over the telephone, which remains a straightforward and preferable alternative for many patients and physicians.
“Too many Americans lack the technology or broadband service necessary to receive care through video-based modalities,” said Jerry Penso, M.D., M.B.A., president and chief executive officer of AMGA. “Recognizing this need, clinicians have continued to provide care for these populations during the pandemic, using only audio-based services, including landline phones. This care is vital to many patients who are unable to access audiovisual technology.”
Unfortunately, under current CMS rules, any diagnosis made during an audio-only visit with a patient cannot be used for risk adjustment purposes. This restriction undermines both the financial stability of these physician practices and our patient care goals.
AMGA and its members have called for CMS to clarify that audio-only visits can be counted for risk adjustment and care coordination purposes. This policy adjustment would support the needs of physician practices across the country as they continue to provide coordinated, affordable patient care during and after this global pandemic.
Click here to read the letter from AMGA.
AMGA is a trade association leading the transformation of health care in America. Representing multispecialty medical groups and integrated systems of care, we advocate, educate, innovate, and empower our members to deliver the next level of high-performance health. AMGA is the national voice promoting awareness of our members’ recognized excellence in the delivery of coordinated, high-quality, high-value care. More than 175,000 physicians practice in our member organizations, delivering care to one in three Americans. Learn more at https://www.amga.org/