Nearly 44% of primary care visits for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries were telehealth visits in April, up from 0.1% in February, according to a report released this week by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Medicare fee-for-service telehealth visits for primary care climbed from about 14,000 per week before the COVID-19 pandemic to 1.3 million per week in April, HHS said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has waived Medicare geographic and originating site restrictions on telehealth and expanded the list of telehealth-eligible services and practitioners during the emergency.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said the report “shows that Medicare providers and beneficiaries rapidly embraced these new opportunities. The meteoric rise of telehealth during the pandemic has not only helped us combat the virus, but also prompted a new conversation around the future of patient-centered care."

AHA has urged Congress and the Administration to ensure flexibilities remain in place after the public health emergency, as well as to reimburse virtual services on par with in-person care. For more information, see the new AHA factsheet on the future of telehealth.

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