Gardner Secures Increased Reimbursements for Audio-only Telehealth

After a bipartisan call from Gardner and his colleagues, CMS increases reimbursements for audio-only telehealth

Washington, D.C. – Following a bipartisan call to action from U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and 36 Senators, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would increase reimbursements for certain telephone-based, or audio-only, telehealth to equal other audio-visual telehealth and in-person visitation reimbursements.

“Telehealth is critical to helping Americans access medical care while preventing unnecessary trips out of the home during this pandemic,” said Senator Gardner. “It is important that Medicare beneficiaries without the reliable broadband necessary to video conference are able to access telehealth services, and I applaud CMS for making the change we requested to better serve Coloradans in every part of our state.” 

The COVID-19 outbreak has underscored the importance of telehealth technologies to deliver care without exposing seniors and others to the virus outside their homes. Many Americans do not have access to reliable broadband, making it nearly impossible to use video-sharing to receive telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead they must turn to telephone-based telehealth services. Until this action from CMS, reimbursements were markedly lower for telephone consultations than for audio-visual telehealth and in-person visitations.

This request from Gardner, Manchin, Hyde-Smith, Shaheen, Moran, and their colleagues was supported by: American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American College of Physicians, American College of Rheumatology, American College of Surgeons, American Gastroenterological Association, American Geriatrics Society, American Medical Group Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, American Telemedicine Association, Endocrine Society, Medical Group Management Association, and the Primary Care Collaborative. 

You can read more about Senator Gardner’s actions to protect Coloradans from COVID-19 here.


Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.