Telehealth coverage, evaluation and management services and Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) program measures all will favor the optometrist in 2019, according to the American Optometric Association.1,2 The recently released 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule shows several dictates that are of benefit to optometry. The MIPS program, for instance, bolsters the value of comprehensive eye exams, even while reducing quality measures for other specialists. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 2019 policy adds that “using resources such as the Think About Your Eyes campaign, and/or referring patients to resources providing no-cost eye exams” such as the American Optometric Association’s Vision USA will contribute to making a clinician MIPS-eligible.2

Regarding telehealth coverage, CMS established a new Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code for virtual check-ins. But, in accordance with the AOA’s position on the matter, physicians must obtain consent prior to performing telehealth services and the only perform telehealth check-ins can after an in-person relationship with the doctor is established.1,2

“At a time when our detractors oppose us at every opportunity and every level, AOA’s cogent and patient-care-focused advocacy efforts rise above the fray and prevail,” AOA President Samuel D. Pierce, OD, said in a statement. “CMS made decisions that were right for the practice of health care and right for the care of our patients.”2

1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Final policy, payment, and quality provisions changes to the medicare physician fee schedule for calendar year 2019. CMS. November 1, 2018. Accessed November 21, 2018.   
2. American Optometric Association. AOA scores big wins in Medicare’s 2019 PFS rulemaking. AOA News. November 8, 2018. Accessed November 21, 2018.