Telehealth Resources

This page was updated on April 29, 2020 at 4:03 PM CST and will be updated as the situation develops.

Below are resources to assist physicians in using telehealth to care for their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TELEHEALTH PLATFORM

The MMA endorses the use of telehealth and secure messaging technologies to assess and treat patients remotely, and has partnered with Backline® by DrFirst™. Backline is an award-winning clinical communication platform that gives healthcare providers, patients, caregivers, and collaborating clinicians a simple, secure way to share health information in real-time.
Register for Backline at https://drfir.st/MNMA and use code MMA.


GENERAL

Minnesota – Telehealth Services and Parity
  • Minn. Stat. 62A.672 provides for reimbursement for telehealth services and parity between telemedicine and in-person services under health plans sold in Minnesota.
March 13, 2020 Waiver or Modification of Requirements Under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act:
  • Before, during or after a disaster or emergency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can issue emergency declarations to help protect the health of the American people.  Here, you will find information about a waiver of modification of requirements (e.g., conditions of participation, certification requirements, professional licensure, EMTALA, physician referral, Medicare Advantage payments, HIPAA Privacy) under section 1135 of the Social Security Act as a result of the of the consequences of COVID-19.

AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (AMA)

CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID (CMS)

  • Medicare Telehealth Frequently Asked Questions, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, March 17, 2020:
    • The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, as signed into law by President Trump on March 6, 2020, includes a provision allowing the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to waive certain Medicare telehealth payment requirements to allow beneficiaries in all areas of the country to receive telehealth services, including at their home. 
  • Medicare Telemedicine Health Care Provider Fact Sheet, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, March 17, 2020:
    • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.  CMS has put together a Medicare telemedicine health care provider fact sheet to outline some of these policy changes. 
  • General Provider Telehealth and Telemedicine Tool Kit
    • Under President Trump’s leadership to respond to the need to limit the spread of community COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. This toolkit contains electronic links to reliable sources of information regarding telehealth and telemedicine for general providers.
  • End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Provider Telehealth and Telemedicine Tool Kit
    • Under President Trump’s leadership to respond to the need to limit the spread of community COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.  This toolkit contains electronic links to reliable sources of information regarding telehealth and telemedicine for ESRD providers.  
  • Long-Term Care Nursing Homes Telehealth and Telemedicine Tool Kit
    • Under President Trump’s leadership to respond to the need to limit the spread of community COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.  This toolkit contains electronic links to reliable sources of information regarding telehealth and telemedicine for long-term care nursing homes.
  • CMS Flexibilities (Telehealth) to Fight COVID-19
    • These temporary changes will apply immediately across the entire U.S. healthcare system for the duration of the emergency declaration. The goals of these actions are to 1) to ensure that local hospitals and health systems have the capacity to handle a potential surge of COVID-19 patients through temporary expansion sites (also known as CMS Hospital Without Walls); 2) remove barriers for physicians, nurses, and other clinicians to be readily hired from the community or from other states so the healthcare system can rapidly expands its workforce; 3) increase access to telehealth in Medicare to ensure patients have access to physicians and other clinicians while keeping patients safe at home; 4) expand in-place testing to allow for more testing at home or in community based settings; and 5) put patients over paperwork to give temporary relief from many paperwork, reporting and audit requirements so providers, health care facilities, Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, and states can focus on providing needed care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries affected by COVID-19.
  • List of Telehealth Codes Payable Under Medicare
    • A list of services payable under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule when furnished via telehealth during COVID-19.
  • Billing for Professional Telehealth Distant Site Services During the Public Health Emergency — Revised
    This information corrects a prior message that appeared in CMS’s March 31, 2020 Special Edition.  Building on prior action to expand reimbursement for telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries, CMS will now allow for more than 80 additional services to be furnished via telehealth.  Clarification is offered regarding direction for telehealth reimbursement.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC) – Funding Opportunity **

MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES (DHS)

  • DHS Updated Provider Manual 
    • The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has updated its provider manual.  The COVID-19 section of this manual provides information about DHS’s coverage for telemedicine.
  • Access to Telemedicine Services Increased  (NEW! 4/23/20 1:13 PM)
    • The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has expanded access to telemedicine to ensure the 1.1 million Minnesotans covered by Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare do not lose access to care and services, including mental health and substance use disorder coverage, during the pandemic.  DHS has received federal approval to temporarily ease certain limits in existing law for receiving needed care and services through telephone and video visits that can instead be provided safely and effectively without an in-person face-to-face visit.  

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES (HHS)

CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES

  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Permission to Prescribe Controlled Substances via Telemedicine:
    • DEA-registered practitioners in all areas of the United States may issue prescriptions for all schedule II-V controlled substances to patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation, provided all of the following conditions are met.
  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Buprenorphine Guidance
    • On March 31, the DEA issued guidance to DEA-registered physicians providing new flexibility for physicians managing patients with opioid use disorder. The new guidance permits physicians and other health professionals with a waiver allowing them to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder to issue these prescriptions to new and existing patients based on an evaluation via telephone. The new policy is effective from March 31 for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

MEDICAID

  • On April 2, the Minnesota Department of Human Services announced it received federal approval to temporarily expand telemedicine services to public health care program enrollees.  The federal approval allows the following changes to:
    • Removes the cap of three telemedicine visits per week for Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare enrollees
    • Expands the definition of telemedicine to include telephone calls so providers who have a telemedicine agreement already in place with DHS can serve patients through telephone visits
    • Allows a provider’s first visit with a Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare enrollee to be conducted on the phone.
  • These measures help public health care program enrollees and providers follow social distancing best practices.
  • Under current state law, telemedicine services are limited to specific providers and certain delivery methods (Minnesota Statute, 256B.0625, subdivision 3b).
  • Delivering services via telemedicine requires submission of a telemedicine assurance statement as well as several documentation requirements. Clinics and providers need to ensure that telemedicine services are only used when safe and effective for the member.
  • These changes remain in effect until the peacetime emergency is terminated or until it is rescinded by proper authority.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) (Updated 4/15/2020 4:24 PM CST)
    • A virtual visit algorithm: how to differentiate and code telehealth visits, e-visits, and virtual check-ins
  • The Physicians Foundation – Telehealth Initiative
    • The current COVID-19 crisis reinforces the need for physician access to practical resources that will enable them to operate telehealth services efficiently while facilitating positive care team and patient experiences. Through The Physicians Foundation Telehealth Initiative, physicians are able to participate in immersive evidence-based coaching that will help improve patient access, experience and outcomes while maintaining continuity of care when fully implemented.