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Summer 2020 - Vaccines

Waiver Allows Medicare Patients to Receive Free Telehealth Services

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. CMS is expanding this benefit on a temporary and emergency basis under the 1135 waiver authority and Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. The benefits are part of the broader effort to ensure all Americans — particularly those at high risk of complications from the virus that causes the disease COVID-19 — are aware of easy-to-use, accessible benefits that can help keep them healthy while helping to contain the community spread of this virus.

Under this new waiver, Medicare will pay for office, hospital and other visits furnished via telehealth across the country and including in patients’ places of residence as of March 6, 2020. A range of providers, including doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists and licensed clinical social workers, will be able to offer telehealth to their patients. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is providing flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal healthcare programs. Prior to this waiver, Medicare could only pay for telehealth on a limited basis: when the person receiving the service is in a designated rural area and when they leave their home and go to a clinic, hospital or certain other types of medical facilities for the service.

Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive a specific set of services through telehealth, including evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling and preventive health screenings, to help ensure Medicare beneficiaries who are at a higher risk for COVID-19 are able to visit with their doctor from their home, without having to go to a doctor’s office or hospital, which puts themselves and others at risk.


Medicare Telemedicine Health Care Provider Fact Sheet. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services press release, March 17, 2020. Accessed at

BSTQ Staff
BioSupply Trends Quarterly [BSTQ] is the definitive source for industry trends, news and information for the biopharmaceuticals marketplace. With timely and critical information, each themed issue covers topics ranging from product breakthroughs, industry insights and innovations, up-to-the-minute news on the latest clinical trials, accessibility, and service and safety concerns.