MDHHS Expands Telemedicine and Permits Flexibility with Telemedicine Requirements to Combat COVID-19

On March 20, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued Medical Services Administration Bulletin 20-13 (MSA 20-13). Due to the continued spread of COVID-19 and conforming with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State recommendations regarding social distancing, MDHHS is temporarily expanding the telemedicine policy for the following programs: Medicaid, Healthy Michigan Plan, Children’s Special Health Care Services, and Maternity Outpatient Medical Services. The purpose of the temporary expansion is to provide flexibility to telemedicine requirements necessary to protect the welfare of both beneficiaries and providers during the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring beneficiaries receive necessary healthcare.

Telemedicine Expansion

MSA 20-13 permits all codes on the telemedicine database to be allowed to utilize the service delivery method “telephonic (audio) only.” Generally, telemedicine requires both audio and visual services delivery, however, this expansion of telemedicine waives the visual requirement when it is not possible to use both audio and visual service delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note that all other telemedicine policy requirements (e.g., scope of practice requirements) still apply and providers must adhere to them.

When reporting such telemedicine procedures, the proper CPT/HCPCS code and place of service must be used as well as the GT interactive modifier. In addition to these general requirements, MDHHS is requiring providers to include the phrase “services provided via telephone” in the remarks section. Additionally, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health Centers (RHCs) should use the GT modifier and the phrase “services provided via telephone” in the remarks section when reporting such procedures.

Applicable to PIHPs and CMHSPs Only

MSA 20-13 provides that all identified codes on the Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration (BHDDA) COVID-19 Encounter Code Chart will also be allowed for service delivery method “telephonic (audio) only.” Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs) and Community Mental Health Service Providers (CMHSPs) must include the phrase “services provided via telephone” in the comments section as well. Other than including the above phrase, PIHPs and CMHSPs are required to adhere to applicable telemedicine policy as set forth in MDHHS MSA Bulletin 20-09 (MSA 20-09).

Applicable Timeframe for Temporary Policy

Please note that this is a temporary policy for telemedicine and is effective from March 1, 2020 until thirty (30) days following the termination of the Governor’s Declaration of a State of Emergency Order (the “Declaration”) or the first of the following month, whichever is later. Therefore, providers should periodically check for updates to the Declaration regarding its applicable timeframe or its termination.

For more information regarding telemedicine or MSA 20-13, please contact Abby Pendleton, Esq. or Adrienne Dresevic, Esq. at (248) 996-8510 or by email at apendleton@thehlp.com and adresevic@thehlp.com.