January 13, 2023
The NYS Council continues to receive many questions re: the status of telehealth, access to behavioral health and related practitioner issues in both the Medicare and Medicaid Programs. Thank you to NYS Council member agency representative Donna Nelson for this helpful information that updates re: various reforms (either completed or pending) in the Medicare space for Calendar Year 2023. Hope this is helpful.
For CY 2023, we are finalizing a number of policies related to Medicare telehealth services, including making several services that are temporarily available as telehealth services for the PHE available at least through CY 2023 in order to allow additional time for the collection of data that may support their inclusion as permanent additions to the Medicare Telehealth Services List. We finalized our proposal to extend the duration of time that services are temporarily included on the telehealth services list during the PHE for at least a period of 151 days following the end of the PHE, in alignment with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 (CAA, 2022).
We confirmed our intention to implement the telehealth provisions in sections 301 through 305 of the CAA, 2022, via program instruction or other subregulatory guidance to ensure a smooth transition after the end of the PHE. These policies, such as allowing telehealth services to be furnished in any geographic area and in any originating site setting (including the beneficiary’s home); allowing certain services to be furnished via audio-only telecommunications systems; and allowing physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists to furnish telehealth services, will remain in place during the PHE for 151 days after the PHE ends. The CAA, 2022, also delays the in-person visit requirements for mental health services furnished via telehealth until 152 days after the end of the PHE.
We finalized the proposal to allow physicians and practitioners to continue to bill with the place of service (POS) indicator that would have been reported had the service been furnished in-person. These claims will require the modifier “95” to identify them as services furnished as telehealth services. Claims can continue to be billed with the place of service code that would be used if the telehealth service had been furnished in-person through the later of the end of CY 2023 or end of the year in which the PHE ends.
The Telehealth Originating Site Facility Fee has been updated for CY 2023, which can be found with the list of Medicare Telehealth List of Services at the following website: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-General-Information/Telehealth/Telehealth-Codes
Behavioral Health Services
In light of the current needs among Medicare beneficiaries for improved access to behavioral health services, CMS has considered regulatory revisions that may help to reduce existing barriers and make greater use of the services of behavioral health professionals, such as licensed professional counselors (LPCs) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs). Therefore, CMS is finalizing the proposal to add an exception to the direct supervision requirement under our “incident to” regulation at 42 CFR 410.26 to allow behavioral health services to be provided under the general supervision of a physician or non-physician practitioner (NPP), rather than under direct supervision, when these services or supplies are furnished by auxiliary personnel, such as LPCs and LMFTs, incident to the services of a physician (or NPP). CMS is also clarifying that any service furnished primarily for the diagnosis and treatment of a mental health or substance use disorder can be furnished by auxiliary personnel under the general supervision of a physician or NPP who is authorized to furnish and bill for services provided incident to their own professional services. CMS believes that this change will facilitate access and extend the reach of behavioral health services. Finally, CMS indicated in the final rule that we intend to address payment for new codes that describe caregiver behavioral management training in CY 2024 rulemaking.
In the 2022 CMS Behavioral Health Strategy (https://www.cms.gov/cms-behavioral-health-strategy), CMS included a goal to improve access to, and quality of, mental health care services and included an objective to “increase detection, effective management, and/or recovery of mental health conditions through coordination and integration between primary and specialty care providers.” In CY 2017 and 2018 PFS rulemaking, CMS received comments that initiating visit services for behavioral health integration (BHI) should include in-depth psychological evaluations delivered by a clinical psychologist (CP), and that CMS should consider allowing professionals who were not eligible to report the approved initiating visit codes to Medicare to serve as a primary hub for BHI services. Considering the increased needs for mental health services and feedback we have received, we are finalizing our proposal to create a new General BHI code describing a service personally performed by CPs or clinical social workers (CSWs) to account for monthly care integration where the mental health services furnished by a CP or CSW are serving as the focal point of care integration. CMS is also finalizing the proposal to allow a psychiatric diagnostic evaluation to serve as the initiating visit for the new general BHI service.