As part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) ongoing efforts to provide up-to-date information to prepare for the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19, expected on May 11, 2023, we are providing a new overview fact sheet on CMS Waivers, Flexibilities, and the Transition Forward from the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. COVID-19 efforts have been a significant priority for the current administration, and with the use of whole-of-government approach, the country is in a better place. Over the next several months, CMS will work to ensure a smooth transition back to normal operations.
The fact sheet provides clarity on several topics, including:
- COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatments;
- Telehealth services; and
- Health care access.
There are several telehealth flexibilities listed within the document, including the continuation of virtual supervision to the end of the calendar year. See below for an excerpt from CMS’ PHE release:
To allow more people to receive care during the PHE, CMS temporarily changed the definition of “direct supervision” to allow the supervising health care professional to be immediately available through virtual presence using real-time audio/video technology instead of requiring their physical presence. CMS also clarified that the temporary exception to allow immediate availability for direct supervision through virtual presence also facilitates the provision of telehealth services by clinical staff “incident to” the professional services of physicians and other practitioners. This flexibility will expire on December 31, 2023.
What is missing is guidance around the intersect of telehealth and the prescribing of buprenorphine as directed under the Ryan Haight Act of 2008. As part of the CMS Physicians Fee Schedule of 2023, CMS was in the process of writing language extending this as a flexibility. To date, there has been no guidance, though RCPA continues its advocacy efforts with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, as well as state and federal stakeholders.