INSIGHTS: Waived Medicare Telehealth Copayments Leave Unanswered Questions

Bloomberg Health Law & Business News

Anjali N.C. Downs, Melissa L. Jampol, Jennifer E. Michael, Anjana D. Patel, and Carrie Valiant, attorneys in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, co-authored an article in Bloomberg Health Law & Business News, titled “INSIGHTS: Waived Medicare Telehealth Copayments Leave Unanswered Questions.”

Following is an excerpt:

Medicare beneficiaries reportedly are among the most vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus.

However, the federal fraud and abuse laws designed to protect Medicare beneficiaries actually can make it more difficult for them to get the care they need during this crisis by preventing well-intentioned providers, practitioners, and suppliers from waiving cost-sharing obligations that may impede beneficiaries’ access to care.

To alleviate some of the negative impact federal fraud and abuse laws may have on Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care during the Covid-19 outbreak, on March 17, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a policy statement notifying health-care providers that they will not be subject to administrative sanctions under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute or the Civil Monetary Penalty and exclusion laws for reducing or waiving cost-sharing amounts for telehealth services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries during the outbreak.

The OIG’s policy statement comes on the heels of the HHS’s recent exercise of the authority granted to it during national emergencies to expand coverage for telemedicine services and to waive potential penalties against health-care providers with respect to violations of certain HIPAA privacy protections associated with the “good faith provision” of telehealth services during the Covid-19 pandemic.