During the Coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken unprecedented action to expand telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries. Since people were advised to stay at home to reduce risk of exposure of COVID-19, there was an urgency to increase access to telehealth services to help people who need routine care and allow beneficiaries to remain in their homes. Early CMS data have shown telehealth to be an effective way for people to access health care safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it’s getting a prescription refilled, managing chronic conditions, or obtaining mental health counseling.
Today, we share data highlighting the impact of telehealth on beneficiary access. We also discuss how we are using this information to assess whether these expanded telehealth policies should remain in place beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency.
With these transformative changes unleashed over the last several months, it’s hard to imagine merely reverting to the way things were before. As the country re-opens, CMS is reviewing the flexibilities the administration has introduced and their early impact on Medicare beneficiaries to inform whether these changes should be made a permanent part of the Medicare program.