CMS Announces New Improved Pay Schedules for Physicians, Telemedicine Visits

CMS  (The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) announced its 2019 Physician Fee Schedule and Qualified Payment Program . It includes major promotion of digital health technology, increased telemedicine coverage, and a reduction in documentation requirements.

 

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CMS: Telemedicine Upgrades

For telemedicine CMS will pay physicians for “brief check-ins” and for remote evaluation of images and videos. It also expands Part B services that can be offered by telehealth. Moreover, it adds mobile stroke units, dialysis facilities, and the homes of end-stage kidney patients as valid sites for telemedicine visits. Best of all, Medicare will now pay for virtual check-ins, meaning patients can connect with their doctor by phone or video chat. This is a big help for elderly and disabled populations where transportation can be a burden to care as well as to caregivers.

In addition, this new rule allows doctors to bill for a telemedicine check-up that neither stems from nor is followed up by an in-person visit.

CMS: Documentation Requirements

This new CMS proposal also greatly eases documentation requirements. It gives EHR ( electronic health records) developers the flexibility to build tools for patient care rather than billing requirements. Also, CMS estimates these changes can save clinicians $2.6 million in reduced administrative costs per year. It works by standardizing the requirements among different evaluation and management (E&M) codes.

Finally, it includes changes to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) by giving patients access to their health information and connecting it to the Office of Innovation’s MyHealthEData Initiative.

 

Conclusion

The new CMS pay guidelines are a win-win for both patients and physicians. Expanding telemedicine coverages, reducing documentation filing requirements, and expanding medical care for seniors into their homes is great medical practice.

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