Mar 18, 2020 - Health

Medicare issues new telehealth flexibility amid coronavirus crisis

Illustration of stethoscope with USB cables instead of ear pieces

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Medicare said yesterday that it will temporarily pay providers for a much broader range of telehealth services.

Why it matters: This will allow seniors — who are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus — to avoid going to hospitals or doctors' offices for routine care that can be provided virtually. This, in turn, reduces their exposure to the virus.

What they're saying: "It's not clear how comfortable older adults are with telehealth, but if they are, and their doctors are on board, this seems like a smart way to keep patients connected to their doctors, without exposing themselves or others to greater risk," the Kaiser Family Foundation's Tricia Neuman said.

  • Yes, but: "There are obvious limits to telehealth for patients when more extensive work ups are needed for diagnosis, or for monitoring conditions, or when patients need in-office procedures, or surgery," Neuman added.

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