RISE looks at recent headlines in the news that impact the health care industry.
CMS continues to expand Medicare telehealth services
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it is adding 11 new services to the Medicare telehealth service list. Medicare will pay for these newly added telehealth services effective immediately and for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, which currently expires on January 21, 2021. The new services include cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services. The full list can be found here. Since the beginning of the public health emergency, CMS has added more than 135 services to the Medicare telehealth service list, including emergency department visits, initial inpatient and nursing facility visits and discharge day management services. The agency reports that between mid-March and mid-August, more than 12 million Medicare beneficiaries (approximately 36 percent) with Medicare Fee-For-Service have received a telemedicine service.
Reports examine how a newly configured Supreme Court will impact health care policy
If Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court, it is expected to establish a 6:3 conservative majority that could impact several health care policies for years to come. A new Kaiser Family Foundation issue brief looks at these potential implications, including those on the Supreme Court’s docket for the coming term and those they may consider in the future. One of the first cases is whether the Affordable Care Act can stand without the individual mandate. Oral arguments are scheduled to take place on Nov. 10, a week after the presidential election. If the Supreme Court nullifies the law, the uninsurance rate for nonelderly people will climb to nearly 70 percent with 21 million Americans losing coverage, according to a study commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The KFF report also notes that the high court may also decide to cover cases involving abortion, Title X, Medicaid enrollee’s free choice of provider, and Medicaid work requirements. The issue brief also looks at cases that could reach the Supreme Court, including payment of ACA cost-sharing reductions to insurers; nondiscrimination in health coverage and care; and the public charge rule.
AMA issues new CPT codes for COVID-19 and flu combo tests
The American Medical Association has updated the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) code set to include new code additions and editorial revisions for reporting medical services due to the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of the newly approved codes report nucleic acid assays that allow a single test to simultaneously detect the novel coronavirus and a combination of common viral infectious agents, including influenza A/B and respiratory syncytial virus, according to AMA President Susan R. Bailey, M.D. “Concurrent detection promises to conserve important testing resources, allowing for ongoing surveillance of influenza while testing for the novel coronavirus,” she said.
Policy watch: Mental illness may become the most common pre-existing condition
A new Kaiser Family Foundation report notes that if the Affordable Care Act is overturned, mental illness could become one of the country’s most common pre-existing conditions. Cynthia Cox, vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and director for the program on the ACA, writes that before the COVID-19 pandemic began, in the first half of 2019, just over 1 in 10 adults (11 percent) reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosable anxiety or depressive disorder. By July 2020, that number rose to 40 percent. The sharp rise means that mental illness now rivals obesity in the prevalence among adults, she says.