APG Applauds Bipartisan Audio-Only Telehealth Bill

Washington, DC – America’s Physician Groups (APG) applauds Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Tim Scott (R-SC) for their bipartisan bill, Ensuring Parity in Medicare Advantage for Audio-Only Telehealth Act of 2021. The bill would require the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to consider diagnoses from audio-only telehealth visits for payment in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans as if they were in-person visits during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“Appropriate recognition of audio-only telehealth services is critical to keeping seniors safe during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Don Crane, APG President and CEO. “Many older patients have difficulty in navigating the video technology included on video-equipped smartphones and similar devices while physicians have also made clear that the video component of telehealth services is unnecessary in providing care for certain chronic conditions. We need to address the barriers that discourage telehealth and prevent organizations from offering necessary care. Virtual audio-only consultations with doctors are a sensible approach to keeping seniors healthy.”

APG has been a strong proponent of changes in telehealth regulations in Medicare, including adding ‘telephone without video capability’ coverage in both traditional Medicare and MA. APG also recommends that CMS lift its requirement that patients have a prior relationship with their doctor in order to use telehealth services, and allow licensed non-physicians (nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, and respiratory therapists) to bill for telehealth. These additional flexibilities will assist in strengthening the continued response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.

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About America’s Physician Groups

America’s Physician Groups is a not-for-profit, mission-driven association organized to assist accountable physician groups to improve the quality and value of healthcare provided to patients. America’s Physician Groups represents and supports physician groups that assume responsibility for clinically integrated, comprehensive, and coordinated healthcare on behalf of our patients. Visit us at www.apg.org.

Contact: Greg Phillips, APG Director of Communications, 202-770-1901, gphillips@apg.org