• Medicare beneficiaries have introduced telemedicine into primary care at unprecedented prices with the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. This comes from a new report from HHS.
• The report, released Tuesday by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at HHS, analyzed data on injuries from January to early June and found that personal use of primary care by FFS Medicare beneficiaries is significantly decreased. In mid-March, visits to telemedicine steadily increased to make up for the shortfall. Nearly half (43.5%) of all Medicare visits to primary care were via telemedicine in April. This is an increase of only 0.1% in February.
• The use increased in both rural and urban areas, although it was more pronounced in urban areas. Providers in rural areas saw a slight increase in virtual care visits compared to all primary care visits in March and April and a decrease in May. By comparison, providers in urban districts saw greater use of virtual services in March and April and a smaller decline in May.
The Trump administration removed regulatory barriers to the use of telemedicine starting in March, when the pandemic closed businesses, including doctors’ offices and hospitals, saving resources for treating COVID-19 patients. As a result, primary care uptake has been curtailed and telemedicine has become an important modality, allowing patients to maintain access to the healthcare system and allowing providers to compensate for lost income.
Medicare beneficiaries, in particular, were excluded from virtual assistance because they were only allowed under strict circumstances under the federal program. Today, 6 months after a national emergency was declared that will allow Medicare to reimburse telemedicine more broadly, SBB Medicare covers 135 telemedicine services for its nearly 40 million beneficiaries and in the United States the use of assistance. virtual has increased significantly.
With COVID-19 cases declining from mid-April to May due to stay-at-home instructions and social care, SBB Medicare staff benefiting from low-cost care have declined a bit, but it seems it is reduced. established in early June. found the story.
Telemedicine has long been touted as a way to provide health services to the masses, especially in rural areas without a geographically restricted provider. According to the report, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York saw the strongest growth in visits to primary telemedicine following the declaration of an emergency.
In rural states of Iowa, South Dakota, and Oklahoma, telemedicine visits to primary care increased by a third in April. In Nebraska, the state with the lowest adoption of telemedicine, virtual care has grown to account for up to 22 percent of all primary care visits.
The report comes as Congress discusses the fifth round of COVID-19 relief laws and telemedicine providers demand that the loose regulations, most of which are temporary, be codified into law. Some, but not all, of the regulatory changes are likely to persist after the pandemic, and experts believe Congress will allow HHS to continue paying more generously for telemedicine in its federal payment programs.