DHCS Releases Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Policy Recommendations

The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) released its telehealth policy recommendations consisting of broad-based telehealth policy changes that would remain permanent fixtures following the eventual termination of the COVID-19 public health emergency. At a high-level, DHCS is seeking to modify or expand the use of synchronous telehealth, asynchronous telehealth, telephonic/audio-only, other virtual communication, and to add remote patient monitoring to create greater alignment and standardization across delivery systems.

DHCS’ proposal advances a series of policy recommendations effective July 1, 2021 (or in accordance with receipt of all necessary federal approvals), including:

  • Allowing specified federally qualified health center (FQHC) and rural health clinic (RHC) providers to establish a new patient, located within its federal designated service area, through synchronous telehealth
  • Make permanent the removal of site limitations on FQHCs and RHCs, for example, allowing them to provide services to beneficiaries in the beneficiary’s home
  • Expanding synchronous and asynchronous telehealth services to 1915(c) waivers, the Targeted Case Management (TCM) Program and the Local Education Agency (LEA) Medi-Cal Billing Option Program (BOP), and add synchronous telehealth and telephone services to Drug Medi-Cal
  • Providing that the TCM Program and the LEA BOP will follow traditional certified public expenditure cost-based reimbursement methodology when rendering services via applicable telehealth modalities

Through its recommended telehealth policy changes, DHCS intends to incorporate some but not all of the temporary COVID-19 public health emergency telehealth flexibilities. The full DHCS policy recommendations document is available here.