The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed lack of access to genetic counseling as a significant problem as hospitals mitigate the spread of the virus by delivering remote healthcare services. Genetic counselors’ lack of recognition in Medicare laws and regulations prevents genetic counselors from delivering services by telehealth to Medicare beneficiaries. Thus, as genetic counselors shift to telehealth, Medicare beneficiaries may have emergent needs that go unaddressed.
Evidence demonstrates that high quality genetic services can be delivered effectively through telehealth. The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) calls on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue a Section 1135 waiver to allow Medicare beneficiaries access to certified genetic counselors through telehealth during the COVID-19 declared emergency.
For a permanent solution, Congress should enact the Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act, allowing genetic counselors to practice independently when serving Medicare beneficiaries aligned with scope of practice as defined by state licensure. Enacting the Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act will modernize Medicare and ensure beneficiaries long-term access to high quality genetic services.
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