Reps. Huffman, Torres Small Announce Expanded Service Reimbursement for Rural Telehealth

May 01, 2020

San Rafael, CA – Today, Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02) announced that U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will reimburse physicians, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), and Rural Health Clinics (RHC) for audio-only telehealth services. In March, Huffman and Torres Small led a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma calling for expanded telephone services reimbursement so that FQHCs and RHCs could safely treat all patients remotely during the public health crisis, including those who do not have access to reliable broadband.

“We need to provide all medical professionals on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 with every tool possible to safely and effectively treat patients, and telehealth is a key component of that work– especially in rural areas where limited broadband capability prevents patients from participating in video appointments,” said Rep. Huffman. “Coupled with the Democratic priorities in the CARES Act, this latest guidance from CMS will ensure rural and federally qualified health centers can perform desperately needed telehealth services with adequate reimbursement. This crisis has highlighted the critical need for remote care capabilities, but it doesn’t end here. Telehealth is invaluable, and I will continue advocating to ensure all health centers have this ability for the long haul.”

“I’ve heard from local doctors and clinics struggling to reach patients who lack good, reliable internet service. That’s why Congressman Huffman and I have been calling on the Administration and CMS to cover care provided over the phone. I am pleased to announce that CMS has heeded our calls and expanded its guidance to fix this issue. This will help countless healthcare providers who work around the clock to provide care to rural residents by allowing them to now take appointments over the phone when it is appropriate,” said Rep. Torres Small.

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, RHCs and FQHCs can furnish any telehealth service that is approved as a Medicare telehealth service. Additional information on today’s announcement can be found here.