The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a far-reaching interim final rule (IFR) to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on March 30. The IFR represents a comprehensive set of policy changes designed to shift the provision of Medicare services from face-to-face care to remote care through telehealth, in order to mitigate the risks of exposure to COVID-19 for patients and healthcare providers. Above all else, the IFR prioritizes physically distancing patients from their care teams and other patients.
The IFR, with a display copy totaling 220 pages, is a massive rule issued at perhaps historic speed. Although it was published just three weeks after the passage of initial legislation (the CPRSAA), and only days after the passage of the CARES Act, the IFR touches on nearly every aspect of the Medicare program, including home health and hospice, intensive care services, radiation therapy management, physicians’ services, and inpatient rehabilitation.