CMS released a final rule pertaining to telehealth services for services furnished on or after January 1, 2009. CMS added three new facility types to the list of authorized telehealth originating sites that now includes hospital-based or CAH-based renal dialysis centers including satellites, skilled nursing facilities, and community mental health centers.
Further, in a request from the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), CMS even though there has been no immediate approval has agreed to evaluate the use of a number of additional codes related to skilled nursing facilities in its review for 2010. The ATA outlined codes in their request for initial nursing facility care, subsequent nursing facility care, nursing facility discharge services, and other nursing facility services.
CMS decided not to add diabetes self-management training and critical care services to the final rule but CMS did add new codes specific to the telehealth delivery of follow-up inpatient consultations. The new codes will enable practitioners to bill for follow-up inpatient consultations delivered via telehealth. These codes are intended for use by physicians or NPPs when an inpatient consultation is requested from an appropriate source such as the patient’s attending physician.
Requests to change approved telehealth services must be made by December 31st of every calendar year. The requests are then reviewed for placement in the proposed rule for the next rulemaking cycle.
Also, CMS released their final 2009 physician payment rule for e-prescribing. Physicians and other eligible professionals who adopt and use qualified e-prescribing systems may earn an incentive payment of 2.0 percent of their total Medicare allowed charges during 2009. The National ePrescribing Patient Safety Initiative is offering free ePrescribing software to all physicians and medication prescribers. For more information, go to www.nationalerx.com.
This incentive is in addition to a 2.0 percent incentive payment for 2009 for physicians who successfully report measures under the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI). Therefore, a physician who successfully reports under both the e-prescribing and PQRI initiatives could receive up to a 5.1 percent pay boost for 2009.