The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General recently has disclosed it is conducting an audit of home health services that were provided as telehealth during COVID-19. In addition, it is studying the challenges home health agencies (HHAs) have faced in providing care during the pandemic.  

In recent months, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has waived certain requirements in an effort to extend Medicare telehealth benefits to healthcare professionals who had been ineligible before the COVID-19 pandemic. An audit will evaluate whether skilled services furnished via telehealth were administered and billed according to CMS regulations. Such regulations state that the technology used must be related to the skilled services provided and be included in the plan of care along with a description of how the technology will help achieve goals without it being a substitute for an in-person visit. Those services found to be improperly billed will be reported as overpayments, and recommendations to CMS will follow.

OIG also is studying the difficulties HHAs have faced in providing care during the pandemic. “This nationwide study will provide insights into the strategies HHAs have used to address the challenges presented by COVID-19, including how well their emergency preparedness plans served them during the COVID-19 pandemic,” OIG said.

Results from both investigations are expected to be released in 2022.