OIG Launches New Telehealth Resource Page | Morgan Lewis – Health Law Analysis

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Perhaps signaling the growing likelihood of a permanent telehealth solution for the Medicare program, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) Office of Inspector General established a Featured Topics Resource Page on its website devoted to telehealth and the work of the OIG in evaluating telehealth policies. This telehealth resource page serves as a compendium of all reports the OIG has completed or plans to undertake regarding telehealth and virtual care technologies, including several audits and assessments currently on the OIG’s 2022 work plan. ‘IGO. Additionally, the resource page provides a helpful overview of how telehealth fits into the broader Medicare regulatory framework.

Notably, the OIG’s telehealth resource page uses relatively broad language to refer to telehealth services, describing telehealth as the “remote or virtual delivery of health care services” and being delivered by “cats video, remote patient monitoring devices and telephone calls”. This contrasts sharply with the strict and rigorous definition that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services must use when discussing telehealth versus other communication-based technology services to keep these other technologies from being subject to the heavy barriers. Statutory Social Security Act 1834(m). on telehealth coverage in the Medicare program. It is unclear whether this difference in language is intentional or simply the result of the OIG’s broader focus on assessing how the health industry uses various health technologies not just in Medicare. , but also in federal health programs, including Medicaid.

Nonetheless, the OIG’s telehealth resource page is also noteworthy for the relatively positive language the OIG uses to discuss this type of service modality, explaining that “the expansion of telehealth has been essential to sustaining beneficiaries’ access to care” and noting that telehealth has the potential to improve care and improve access. Previously, the OIG has been far more critical of telehealth as a care delivery modality and warned of rampant “telefraud”. Comparatively speaking, the OIG’s telehealth resource page is balanced, acknowledging the increased access and ease of use that telehealth can provide to beneficiaries, while noting the importance of developing effective policies and establish oversight mechanisms to mitigate fraud and abuse issues.

For providers and other health sector stakeholders, the creation of the OIG Telehealth Resource Page should serve as a further assurance of the increasingly important role of telehealth in our health care delivery system. , today and in the future. In addition, it is useful to assess the various reports that the OIG has already published, including a report on non-compliance with Medicare telehealth requirements and an analysis of how Medicare beneficiaries used telehealth services during the pandemic, when establishing or evaluating a telehealth program, or seeking to understand applicable federal laws that apply.

While much of the OIG’s recent work in the area of ​​telehealth has focused on the regulatory flexibility offered as a result of the declaration of a public health emergency COVID-19, the telehealth resource page contains pre-2020 reports as well as new work plan items that indicate future audits and enforcement priorities.

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