What Happens When the Public Health Emergency Ends on May 11th, 2023
In his latest video, Dr. Seheult of MedCram discusses what will happen when the public health emergency funds for COVID-19 officially end on May 11, 2023. The national emergency and the public health emergency funds will both end. What will be the implications of this both from a medical aspect and practical aspect?
What changes occurred with the pandemic?
When the pandemic occurred, many of the restrictions Medicare had on telehealth services were lifted and this provided access to telehealth that previously was not allowed. Some changes included that Medicare beneficiaries in any geographic area could receive telehealth services and not just those living in rural areas only. Also telehealth visits could be delivered via smartphone in lieu of equipment with both audio and video capability. Furthermore, beneficiaries could remain in their own home for the telehealth visits reimbursed by Medicare rather than needing to travel to health care facility. Telemedicine really played an important role during the pandemic, due to rules being relaxed that previously would not allow the wide use of telemedicine.
State of telemedicine today
Now many people enjoy telehealth, and it’s not clear how to go back to life how it was before the restrictions were loosened. Congress has actually passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act in 2023 that will extend these flexibilities through December 31, 2024 so the telehealth allowances don’t expire when the public health emergency ends on May 11, 2023. Telehealth is a service that can reach people that might not normally go to the doctor’s office; however, it does have limitations as some physical exam findings may be missed as it is not as easy to pick up on items over a screen. It is a resource that needs to be used wisely and carefully. Telehealth should be used not as a substitute for seeing your healthcare provider but as an extension of this.
What else will change?
Other requirements that were loosened included that all states had temporarily waived some aspects of state licensure requirements so that providers with licenses in other states could practice via telehealth. Normally, in the U.S. practitioners can only practice in states they are licensed to practice in. With the pandemic, drastic changes had to happen and many states are still continuing to make allowances for long-term or permanent interstate telemedicine. However, this is a state by state allowance and one needs to review each state’s particular requirements as they will vary. Many states had also permitted expanded coverage and access to telehealth in Medicaid. There is hope that several states will plan to make some of the Medicaid telehealth flexibilities permanent. One thing that will be changing and not extended is that prescription of controlled substances will no longer be allowed with using telemedicine and will need to have in-person visits.
This Kaiser article link further discusses what will happen when the Covid-19 public health emergency funds end.
LINKS / REFERENCES:
What Happens When COVID-19 Emergency Declarations End? Implications for Coverage, Costs, and Access (KFF) | https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid…
All coronavirus updates are at MedCram.com (including more discussion on delta variant covid, COVID Delta, COVID children, natural immunity COVID 19, and more).
MedCram Update 46: https://youtu.be/EFRwnhfWXxo
MedCram Update 47: https://youtu.be/H1LHgyfPPQ8
MedCram Update 132: https://youtu.be/9OZZ6_M4OB0