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Telehealth Policy Changes During COVID-19: What Providers Need to Know

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put a strain on the health care system, federal and state governments and enforcement agencies have relaxed telehealth rules. The relaxation of such rules is an effort to increase hospital capacity and limit the exposure and spread of COVID-19 in health care settings.

  • Medicaid Agencies and Licensure Boards in several states have relaxed the restrictions on license reactivation and on cross-state licensure requirements and telehealth reimbursement. However, such allowances may only apply during a declared state of emergency. Accordingly, it will be important to pay close attention to any new developments or pronouncements from the governor and public health officials in your state.      

  • CMS Section 1135 Waiver expands telehealth services to allow for: 

    • Service to Medicare beneficiaries regardless of patient location — including at the patient’s home; 

    • Consultation via telephone without the requirement of video conferencing;

    • Service to patients with whom the provider does not have a pre-existing relationship; 

    • Treatment by a physician or health care professional in another state so long as they have an equivalent license from another state and subject to any state law requirements that may apply;

    • Application to any service without regard to the treatment or diagnosis of the patient, not just for COVID-19.

  • Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights will not impose penalties for violations of certain HIPAA rules, including the lack of a Business Associate Agreement between the provider and the technology vendor. Additionally, covered health care providers may provide telehealth services by utilizing popular video chat applications including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Zoom, or Skype to provide telehealth services. 

© Steptoe & Johnson PLLC. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 111


About this Author

Charles A. Sinsel, Steptoe Johnson, Corporate Transactions Lawyer, Employment recruitment Attorney

Charles "Chark" Sinsel concentrates his practice in the areas of health care, corporate law, business transactions, and contracting. Mr. Sinsel represents health care entities, including hospitals, nursing homes, behavioral health providers, medical and dental practices, in a variety of transactions, including acquisitions, corporate restructuring, leasing, employment, recruitment, income guarantees, independent contractor (services) arrangements and group purchasing arrangements. Mr. Sinsel serves as leader of the Firm's Health Care Team.


Joshua L. Stearns ASSOCIATE Louisville Health Law Construction

As a student-athlete on the University of Louisville football team, Josh learned how to work as part of a team, think analytically in stressful situations, and respect the importance of self-discipline and details.  In his legal practice, Josh takes the lessons he learned on the field and puts them to work for his clients. His clients have needs in health care, corporate law, business transactions, and construction.  Growing up in Kentucky, Josh is proud to work with organizations who share his vision for improving the local community, especially his health care clients. Those clients often turn to Josh when they have transactional needs or when time-sensitive issues arise with federal and state regulatory bodies.  

No matter the circumstances, Josh brings his calm demeanor, logical approach, and drive to win to work for his clients.