TRICARE Coverage Change Will Help Protect Vulnerable Populations During COVID-19 Pandemic

June 18, 2020

The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently submitted comments to the Department of Defense (DoD) in response to the TRICARE Coverage and Payment for Certain Services in Response to the COVID–19 Pandemic interim final rule. The rule allows TRICARE to reimburse providers for audio-only services during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE).

In its letter, ASCO applauds DoD for recognizing the importance of covering audio-only services during the PHE, especially for people with chronic conditions like cancer. By reimbursing for telehealth services the Agency is helping to ensuring that vulnerable patients receive appropriate and high-quality care in the safety of their own homes.

ASCO recommends that the Agency continue covering audio-only services after the PHE, considering DoD’s acknowledgment that many TRICARE beneficiaries do not have access to audio/visual communications.

ASCO also commends DoD for waiving existing state licensure requirements during the PHE. TRICARE is now able to reimburse out-of-state providers, assuming the individual:

  • Holds an equivalent license from any state in the United States
  • Complies with provisions for interstate practice in that state
  • Is not barred or restricted from practicing in any state in the United States

This change does not undermine state licensing regulations, but it does assure TRICARE providers that if state licensing requirements are relaxed during the PHE, then providers in compliance with state or federal law will be eligible for reimbursement.

Read full comment letter.

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