President Trump Approves Executive Order for Expanding Telehealth Services

On August 3, 2020, President Trump approved an executive order to give 57 million Americans residing in under-served rural communities access to telehealth services. The Improving Rural and Telehealth Access executive order will make sure that the expanded telehealth services because of the COVID-19 pandemic will proceed even after the end of the nationwide public health emergency.

In 2019, Medicare began covering virtual check-ins with physicians to find out whether a face-to-face consultation was necessary, however, the pandemic resulted in the significant expansion of access to virtual visits to help stop COVID-19 from spreading. Geographic limitations were removed, and telehealth services were given to Medicare beneficiaries throughout the country. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) likewise added 135 medical services to the catalog of virtual services that Medicare covers.

Statistics from the CMS demonstrate that virtual visits through telephone or video went up to around 1.7 million at the end of April, in comparison to only 14,000 consultations prior to COVID-19. From the middle of March to the middle of July, telehealth limitations were laid back. 10.1 million beneficiaries of Medicare got a Medicare telehealth virtual consultation. Although May had a drop in the number of virtual consultations, as soon as face-to-face visits started again, the number of patients choosing virtual visits stayed high, showing that patients are satisfied with virtual medical services.

People residing in rural areas will be more likely to die because of the top 5 causes of death in the U.S.A. than people residing in urban locations, and the gap has increased from 2010 to 2017. Before the pandemic, telehealth wasn’t raging, but because of the pandemic telehealth has increased. The purpose of the executive order is to increase access, quality, and financial economics of healthcare in rural areas, which include increasing access to excellent care via telehealth.

President Trump likewise required officials to create a plan in just 30 days to raise capital for the communication infrastructure to enhance medical care in rural locations. Within 30 days, the Secretary of the HHS will introduce a new plan for new payment systems to make sure that rural areas will get the required level and quality of patient care from healthcare companies in rural locations. Under the new plan, healthcare companies in rural locations will be given more flexible Medicare rules, and the plan will set up foreseeable financial payments and inspire the change to excellent quality, value-based caution. The HHS Secretary will also submit a report on policy initiatives to provide more rural healthcare access by removing regulatory burdens that restrict available doctors, stop disease and mortality by means of rural-specific projects to enhance health results, decrease maternal mortality, and better mental health in rural areas.

Soon after the signing of the Executive Order, the CMS announced its proposed changes that will permanently give telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries. The proposed CMS ruling likewise includes a multiple-year program that seeks to decrease the burden on doctors through its Patients Over Paperwork initiative and will make certain to give applicable reimbursement for the time physicians devoted to patients. The CMS is likewise proposing that Medicare would continue to pay for some of the extra medical services paid for by Medicare during the public health emergency, such as virtual visits for particular assessment and management services and several services for patients having cognitive problems.

The CMS wants public suggestions on which services Medicare should continue to cover when the public health emergency ends. The CMS likewise would like to proceed with telehealth services for E.R. visits to provide the industry time to assess if they should be fixed. CMS will accept inputs on the proposed changes until October 5, 2020.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said telemedicine cannot take the place of face-to-face care, however, it can complement and improve face-to-face care by providing one more potent clinical tool to give America’s seniors more access and choices. The Trump Administration’s unrivaled expansion of telemedicine throughout the pandemic presents a trend in healthcare delivery, which was adopted immediately and effectively by the healthcare system.