CMS expands telehealth payments in proposed physician payment schedule

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, via its proposed physician fee schedule for 2016, offers to expand telehealth payments and notes that federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and rural health clinics (RHCs) will be eligible to use new chronic care management codes if they comply with outlined health IT requirements.

The proposed fee schedule, unveiled this week and set to be published in the Federal Register July 15, calls for CMS to pay for telehealth related to "prolonged service in the inpatient observation setting" that would require additional unit or floor time beyond the scope of usual care. The agency also says it will pay for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) related services for home dialysis that monitor "the adequacy of nutrition, assessment of growth and development, and counseling of parents," as necessary.

In a proposed payment rule for ESRD released June 26, CMS said it also wants to see providers continue to adopt electronic health records and electronic data sharing tools.

Meanwhile, for qualified health centers and rural health clinics, CMS, in the latest proposal, calls use of electronic health record technology necessary to ensure effective care coordination between providers for patients with multiple chronic conditions. To that end, the agency proposes that certified health IT (EHRs) be used by FQHCs and RHCs for "the recording of demographic information, health-related problems, medications and medication allergies," as well as for a clinical summary record.

CMS also proposes a revised definition for certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) to correspond with changes via updated Meaningful Use proposed rules. "We are proposing these amendments to ensure that providers participating in the Physician Quality Reporting System and the EHR Incentive Programs under the 2015 Edition possess EHRs that have been certified to report [clinical quality measures] according to the format that CMS requires for submissions," the agency says.

Under the new proposal, CMS also would pay physicians to conduct end-of-life conversations with their patients, FiercePracticeManagement reports.

CMS also proposes changes to its Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and to its Physician Compare website. For MSSP, CMS wants to offer flexibility for accountable care organization participants to alter quality measures, and it seeks to clarify how PQRS requirements interact with ACO quality measures, among other modifications.

For Physician Compare, CMS wants to add various reporting measures to the consumer-targeted website, including noting when a physician or practice was eligible but chose not to report quality measures to CMS.

To learn more:
- here's the proposed rule (.pdf)