Prior to COVID-19, provisions added to the Social Security Act in 2001 restricted telehealth to patients living in rural areas. Additionally, the provisions dictated that patients needed to be onsite at a healthcare facility when the service was provided.
As part of their pandemic relief efforts, Congress expanded access to telehealth coverage for the duration of the public health emergency period. Under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, the restrictions on rural areas and onsite services were waived. However, providers must still abide by the provision that dictates telehealth services must be delivered using technology with both audio and video capability that allows real-time interaction. By enabling physicians to be broadly reimbursed for telehealth services, CMS has expanded the opportunity for practices to participate and telehealth is being widely adopted across the oncology community.