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Telehealth Regulation (COVID Updates): Remote Prescribing and Managing High Risk Patients

Mantra Health’s Parked Thoughts Blog

David Florin and Amy Lerman, Members of the Firm in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, co-authored an article in Mantra Health’s Parked Thoughts Blog, titled “Telehealth Regulation (COVID Updates): Remote Prescribing and Managing High Risk Patients,” as part of Mantra Health’s “Telehealth Regulation Series: The Impact of COVID on Higher Education.”

Following is an excerpt:

Overview of Key Regulatory Changes

As a reminder, our first two blog posts discussed the significant changes to telehealth coverage and reimbursement rules in response to COVID-19 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) (1-2) and the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (3-4) These changes have included, but are not limited to:

  • Waiver of the requirement that providers have a valid license for the state(s) in which they provide care;
  • Expansion of the list of acceptable platforms upon which telehealth services may be provided;
  • Statements that penalties for HIPAA non-compliance will not be enforced, and that audits will not be conducted;  and
  • Suggestions regarding the locations from which providers can conduct telehealth visits, and related guidance regarding ways to maintain the privacy during such sessions.

It is important for providers to recognize that the guidance that has come from CMS is only applicable to federal healthcare programs. Such guidance may not apply to a large segment of the higher education student population, given the relatively small numbers of students receiving coverage under a federal health care program. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the federal-level guidance to the extent it can provide a roadmap for similar changes that may be occurring not only at the state level but also by private insurers.

Moreover, the relaxation of federal and state laws stems from the COVID-19 national public health emergency and, as specifically stated by many authorities, is temporary in its nature. We cannot predict when the national public health emergency period will end or the extent to which these emergency actions will change the prior regulatory and legal framework more permanently. However, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, higher education providers should anticipate that most, if not all, regulatory and legal changes will revert back to the status quo as it existed prior to the COVID-19 emergency.