As we have mentioned in several of our past updates, the federal and New Jersey governments have greatly expanded telemedicine because of COVID-19. Due to the perceived success of that expansion, the question is will the expansion, or parts of it, become permanent? The New Jersey State Senate and Assembly have already introduced duplicate bills, A4179/S2559, which, if passed, will require health insurance carriers to reimburse providers for telemedicine services at the same rates they reimburse providers for in-person services. Besides maintaining reimbursement levels, these bills would prevent health insurance carriers, Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare, and the State Health Benefits Program ("SHBP") and the School Employees' Health Benefits Program ("SEHBP") from adding “place of service” requirements on providers as long as such services continue to meet the same rigorous in-person standard of care, and the platform used meets federal and State rules and guidelines regarding privacy.
On the federal level, a new bill, Helping Ensure Access to Local TeleHealth, or HEALTH Act, is being introduced in Congress, which would provide for permanent Medicare payments for telemedicine services at federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics. It is expected, however, based on comments from Seema Verma, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ("CMS"), that a significant portion of the telemedicine services that were expanded by CMS because of COVID-19 will become permanent besides those services identified in the HEALTH Act.
We will continue to keep track of these bills and other efforts to expand telemedicine on the federal and State levels.
New Jersey Ambulatory Surgery Center Assessment
In our previous post, we mentioned that A4201 was introduced in the New Jersey Assembly, which would postpone the June 15, 2020 assessment for licensed ambulatory surgery centers. An amended version of the bill was recently introduced in the Assembly, and is up for a vote in the Assembly on June 18, 2020 – three days after the assessment is due. We will continue to keep track of this bill, but any licensed ambulatory surgery center should call the Department of Health and seek a postponement of your assessment since A4201 has been delayed.