The federal authorities is requesting feedback on proposed steering for federally certified well being facilities (FQHCs) that present companies through telehealth. The steering communicates key standards for guaranteeing companies delivered through telehealth stay inside the well being middle’s Well being Assets and Providers Administration (HRSA)-approved scope of mission, and subsequently qualify for advantages equivalent to Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) protection, 340B low cost drug pricing, and enhanced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
The proposed steering was issued for touch upon September 15, 2022 by HRSA, the element of the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Providers (DHHS) that oversees well being facilities. The steering applies to FQHCs that obtain federal grants below the Public Well being Service Act, in addition to FQHC look-alikes that meet HRSA necessities however don’t obtain federal grants. Feedback are due on or earlier than November 14, 2022.
Present Well being Middle Program Necessities Apply to Telehealth Providers
The proposed steering units forth HRSA’s view that telehealth is a method for delivering well being companies to sufferers utilizing telecommunications know-how or gear. As a result of telehealth will not be thought of a sort of service, it doesn’t have to be authorised by an FQHC’s HRSA mission officer and listed on the Kind 5A. Nonetheless, the proposed steering emphasizes that every one current well being middle program necessities apply when companies are delivered through telehealth.
Lots of the necessities famous by the proposed steering might be applied by means of acceptable insurance policies and procedures. For instance, well being facilities utilizing telehealth should delineate key roles and duties for well being middle workers, such because the accountability for acquiring knowledgeable consent from sufferers to obtain companies by telehealth, and the accountability for informing sufferers of the flexibility to choose out of receiving companies through telehealth. Well being facilities should additionally guarantee they’ll invoice and apply sliding price reductions to sufferers receiving care through telehealth, and meet all related licensure and scope-of-practice guidelines.
Regulatory Limitations Pose Challenges for Offering Telehealth Providers to Geographically Distant Sufferers
The proposed steering clarifies that FQHCs should guarantee sufferers who obtain companies through telehealth have affordable entry to the well being middle’s full scope of companies for the telehealth care to fall inside the HRSA-approved scope of mission. This requirement doubtlessly will increase complexities for FQHCs fascinated about delivering companies in geographic areas the place they don’t have a bodily presence.
Exacerbating this difficulty is the rule outlined within the proposed steering that telehealth companies shall be thought of inside an FQHC’s scope of mission solely when delivered to sufferers who both have beforehand introduced for care at a well being middle web site or fulfill an in depth set of standards, together with a requirement to be bodily positioned inside the well being middle’s service space. This restriction sharply limits the flexibility of an FQHC to ship in-scope companies to a geographically distant affected person—even when the FQHC has particular experience in offering take care of the actual affected person’s well being situation or neighborhood.
FQHCs Could Contract for Telehealth Providers
The proposed steering doesn’t expressly deal with contracting for telehealth companies, leaving HRSA’s abnormal steering on FQHC contracting undisturbed. Partnering with an area well being middle might supply one viable various for a geographically distant FQHC to leverage its specialised experience to achieve new sufferers through know-how with out shedding the advantages of FQHC standing.
In case you are fascinated about submitting feedback on HRSA’s proposed steering for well being facilities delivering companies through telehealth, please attain out to the writer, your Foley relationship associate, or to our Well being Care Apply Group with any questions.