Audiologists and SLPs may provide telepractice services to Medicare Part B (outpatient) beneficiaries who choose to pay privately, according to ASHA’s new interpretation of Medicare laws. This determination stems from ASHA’s direct communication with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services staff and consultation with Medicare law experts and other professional associations.
Very simply: A federal statute excludes audiologists and speech-language pathologists from Medicare reimbursement for telepractice. Therefore, because telepractice is not a covered benefit when provided by an audiologist or SLP, such services can be provided to Medicare beneficiaries under private-pay agreements, if the beneficiary agrees.
With this interpretation, audiologists and SLPs could continue to provide medically necessary care while adhering to social distancing recommendations and shelter-in-place directives related to COVID-19—especially for older people and those with underlying health conditions.
Three important considerations:
• Audiologists and SLPs are not required to enroll in Medicare if they are providing only uncovered services to Medicare beneficiaries.
• Audiologists and SLPs still cannot opt out of Medicare for covered services.
• Clinicians must comply with all regulatory requirements when they provide covered services to Medicare beneficiaries.