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CMS Expands Medicare Telehealth Policy

March 26, 2020

To: Primary Care Providers

We are supporting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 1135 waiver to expand Medicare telehealth services for your BlueCross BlueShield patients. This includes allowing you to conduct Annual Wellness Visits (AWVs) on your Medicare Advantage patients through non-HIPAA compliant platforms until CMS revokes the 1135 waiver.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, CMS’s temporarily expanded telehealth policy will allow the use of non-HIPAA compliant interactive audio and video communications platforms to conduct routine office and annual wellness visits (AWV). Use of these platforms will not be subject to any HIPAA-violation penalties until the waiver is revoked at a future date.  

Acceptable Non-HIPAA compliant non-public platforms include, but are not limited to:

  • Apple FaceTime
  • Skype
  • Facebook Messenger video chat
  • Google Hangouts video

AWVs can also be conducted through the following HIPAA-compliant platforms:

  • Skype for Business
  • Updox
  • VSee
  • Zoom for Healthcare
  • Google G Suite Hangouts Meet

Public video communication platforms such as Facebook Live, Twitch and TikTok should NOT be used for telehealth.

We will continue to reimburse at the same rate for any Vatica Well365 Plus or non-Vatica AWV. You can review AWV reimbursement rates by logging on here. Prior to rendering telehealth services, your patients must provide written or verbal consent, and the consent must be documented in the patient’s medical record. Please include place of service code 02 on all telehealth services and use the appropriate modifier below:

  • GT: Via interactive audio and video telecommunications system

We will be sending additional guidance and recommended workflows for performing a telehealth AWV through Vatica soon.

Before using a third-party site to conduct an e-visit, you should inform your patients that this has the potential to introduce privacy risks.

We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.

For questions about AWVs, the 1135 waiver, and setting up and using a virtual communications platform, please contact your practice account manager.

The following links offer more information regarding the use of telemedicine and HIPAA regulations during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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