Under the CARES Act signed into law on March 27, the Medicare related provisions of the bill include:
- Significant expansion of telehealth services that can substitute for certain visits that usually require in-person visits with health care providers, such as remote patient monitoring for home health services, hospice recertification, and nephrologist visits for those using home dialysis;
- Allowing physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other professionals to order home health services for beneficiaries;
- Waiving the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF) 3-hour rule, which requires that a beneficiary be expected to participate in at least 3 hours of intensive rehabilitation at least 5 days per week to be admitted to an IRF;
- Allowing Up to 3-Month Fills and Refills of Covered Medicare Part D Drugs – requiring that Medicare Part D plans provide up to a 90-day supply of a prescription medication if requested by a beneficiary during the COVID-19 emergency period.
On March 30, CMS announced several provider waivers affecting Medicare. These policy changes include:
- Expanding the destinations to which ambulance services can be covered by Medicare;
- Allowing coverage for home testing for COVID-19;
- Further expanding telehealth services to fulfill requirements for visits that usually must be in person (e.g., inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, home health and hospice);
- Emphasized that someone can be “homebound” in order to qualify for home health coverage if a physician determines that it is contraindicated for the Medicare beneficiary to leave home – or due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19.