April 6, 2020 

Cares Act Provides More Access to Telehealth Services for Medicare Beneficiaries

This post is an update to a March 20, 2020, post, "HHS Waives Telehealth Restrictions for Medicare Beneficiaries to Expand Access to COVID-19 Treatment," by Amanda Cole, Ann Ford, and April Walkup

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law, making it even easier for Medicare beneficiaries’ to access telehealth services during the emergency period.1 The new law removes telehealth restrictions that the first Coronavirus Supplemental law had put into place, including the modality restrictions that required Medicare Beneficiaries to use a telephone with real-time audio and video capabilities when they were receiving telehealth services. The new law also removes the requirement that the patient and provider delivering the telehealth service must have a pre-existing relationship from within the last three years. Additionally, the law allows Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health Clinics to provide Medicare beneficiaries with telehealth services as a distant site for the purposes of the waiver.

1. Telemedicine providers must still comply with state laws and regulations that affect the delivery of telehealth services (i.e. professional license requirements, scope of practice and consent).