The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has expressed displeasure towards the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) recent final ruling on accountable care organizations (ACOs) in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).
Specifically, ATA says that the agency’s rule “severely restricts the use of telemedicine services to serve millions of patients, while Medicaid, private payers and others are making significant strides to improve the quality of care and health outcomes by reimbursing telehealth care delivery in these innovative care models.”
CMS’ final rule on MSSP ACOs, released on June 4, does not include the proposed telemedicine waivers for ACOs in Track 1 of the program. CMS said it plans to offer such waivers "starting as early as 2017," with specific reimbursements based on the agency's efforts implementing telemedicine-based waivers in the Next Generation ACO Model. In the meantime, CMS said it will consider telemedicine waivers from ACOs in two-sided risk models and those in Track 3 of the program.
“Medicare has done so much to lead and advance innovation in care delivery, and as such, it is disappointing that they would deny the benefits of telemedicine services to so many seniors and their physicians,” Reed Tuckson, M.D., president of ATA, said in a statement. “ATA will continue to provide the supportive evidence to encourage CMS and Congress to advance innovation in this critical area that affects a key segment of the American population and their caregivers.”
Jonathan Linkous, CEO of ATA, added, “Medicaid, private payers, the VA, and the Department of Defense long ago realized the importance of telehealth to reduce costs, expand access and improve quality. For over four years, ATA has urged CMS to waive restrictions on ACOs use of telemedicine. This is a longstanding issue that the agency has made very little movement on.”