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Congress’ Last Minute Holiday Gift to Telehealth: The Omnibus Budget for FY 2023 Has Passed!


December 23, 2022

Earlier today, Congress passed HR 2617, The Performance Enhancement Reform Act, the omnibus budget for FY 2023. HR 2617 includes several provisions impacting telehealth, including extending some of the telehealth COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities.

In the budget bill passed for FY 2022, Congress had included a 151-day extension after the end of the public health emergency (PHE) for some COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities. However, with the passage of HR 2617, these flexibilities will now last until December 31, 2024. The main telehealth provisions in the bill include:

For Medicare:
Some telehealth flexibilities in Medicare are extended to December 31, 2024.
These flexibilities include:
temporary suspension of the geographic site requirement, continuing to allow the home as an eligible originating site, allowing certain providers, including FQHCs and RHCs to continue to be eligible telehealth providers during this period, delaying the in-person mental health visit requirement for services that take place when the patient is not in a geographically eligible location or at home that is found in non-pandemic telehealth policies, and continuing to allow audio-only to be used to provide some services.

A study on telehealth and Medicare program integrity that will include a medical record review of claims from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2024. Elements to be examined include the types of services furnished, where they were furnished, and duration of services.

For the VA:
Development of a strategic plan to ensure effectiveness of telehealth delivered by the VA to their enrollees.

Other Items:
Extension of safe harbor for absence of deductible for telehealth in health savings accounts for another 2 years (for plans after December 31, 2022 and before January 1, 2025).

President Biden is expected to sign the bill which will allow telehealth providers and patients to have a little more clarity on the end date of federal telehealth provisions. For more information read HR 2617 in its entirety.

Wishing a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year to all!

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