Proposals by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand coverage of telehealth and remote monitoring will help foster coordinated care, introduce new efficiencies in delivery, and improve quality for patients, especially for those in rural areas and with chronic conditions.
These were views expressed by Philips Healthcare recently in comments submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in response to the agency’s proposed physician payment policies and rates for Calendar Year 2019. CMS is expected to finalize its proposals in November 2018.
Highlights of Philips Comments:
- Telehealth: Philips said it strongly supports CMS proposals to expand Medicare payment for services provided remotely. This includes proposals to expand coverage or payment for remote monitoring of physiological data, remote provision of chronic care management, and virtual check-ins. CMS also proposed adding prolonged preventive services that could be provided via telehealth, along with acute stroke telehealth services.
- Equipment Costs: Philips expressed concern over CMS proposals that would significantly change payment levels for a variety of services, particularly those involving intravascular ultrasound, radiation oncology, and other vascular procedures. Philips raised doubts about the validity of price data that CMS is using in recalculating payment rates.
- Evaluation & Management: Philips recommended that CMS refrain from changes it proposed in how physicians document the level of complexity for routine visits. Philips said that the proposed changes could result in substantial and unjustified swings in Medicare payment for certain medical specialties. The company said that CMS has not offered enough information regarding the changes.
- CPT Codes: Philips said it supported new CPT codes for various imaging and imaging-guided procedures, including breast MRI with computer-aided detection, ultrasound elastography, and contrast-enhanced ultrasound.
Home Health: Separately, Philips also filed comments with CMS supporting the agency’s proposals of July 2018, to include the cost of remote patient monitoring as an allowable cost in the Medicare home health agency cost reports. The purpose of the change is to encourage adoption of emerging technologies and facilitate data sharing for more effective care planning.