On April 30, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final regulation that states that, all professionals who are able to bill Medicare for their professional services will be considered eligible telehealth providers for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Though not named specifically in the CMS Fact Sheet or Press Release, it is our interpretation of the regulation that audiologists are considered eligible providers of telehealth services.
The CMS Fact Sheet states: “The waiver of these requirements expands the types of health care professionals that can furnish distant site telehealth services to include all those who are eligible to bill Medicare for their professional services. This allows health care professionals who were previously ineligible to furnish and bill for Medicare telehealth services, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and others, to receive payment for Medicare telehealth services.”
CMS has added four cochlear implant codes (92601, 92602, 92603, and 92604) to the list of codes eligible for telehealth. The Academy has been in consistent dialogue with CMS from the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis encouraging that they utilize their regulatory authority to allow audiologists to bill Medicare for telehealth services. In addition, in response to a request from CMS to provide a list of Medicare audiology services that could be provided via telehealth, the Academy suggested that the four cochlear implant codes that were ultimately added to the list as ones that could be easily added.
While this is just a start, the Academy will work to ensure that other audiology codes are added to the code list. In fact, CMS also stated that during this emergency the Agency will add new telehealth services on a sub-regulatory basis, considering requests by practitioners.