American Hospital Association to House Committee: Make Telehealth Global | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

American Hospital Association to House Committee: Make Telehealth Global

January 29, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
| Reprints

Earlier this week, representatives from the Chicago-based American Hospital Association (AHA) sent a letter to the Committee on Energy and Commerce seeking a reform of Medicare policy on telehealth reimbursement.

The AHA’s letter is in response to the proposal from the Committee’s Advancing Telehealth Opportunities in Medicare initiative. The original proposal, released in mid-January, looks to expand the number of telehealth services covered by reimbursement and limit geographic restrictions. However, in a letter to Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the AHA’s executive vice president Rick Pollack says that would only happen if a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) actuary certifies that adding those services would not add expenses to the program.

“Medicare already deploys a service-by-service consideration for telehealth that results in a “positive list” of covered services. It has proven to be a cumbersome approach that results in limited coverage. Given the rate of change in technology, and particularly in the use of technology in health care, a more nimble approach would be preferred,” Pollack writes.

He also says that removing geographic and other restrictions only for certain services creates real operational challenges and believes it could be very confusing for Medicare beneficiaries. “Why would they be able to benefit from the convenience of telehealth for one service, but not another?” Pollack asks.

AHA also wrote about its disappointment in several missing provisions from the Committee’s proposal.  Specifically, it says the proposal does not address the technology limitations of the current Medicare program nor does it address payment for remote monitoring. On the latter, AHA says it’s increasingly common and is demonstrated to provide significant benefits for patients.

There were some elements of the proposal AHA liked. Specifically, there was a part of the proposal encouraging the provision of telehealth services in demonstration projects and models under the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) by waiving the current limitations on what qualifies to be an originating site and the geographic location of such sites.

“In conclusion, the AHA strongly agrees with your goal of expanding coverage of telehealth services in Medicare, and appreciates the specification of a mechanism for doing so. However, given the growing body of evidence that telehealth increases quality, improves patient satisfaction and reduces costs, we believe a more global approach to expanding Medicare coverage of telehealth is warranted,” Pollack writes.



NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens Partner on Telemedicine Initiative

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens are collaborating to bring expanded access to NewYork-Presbyterian’s healthcare through new telemedicine services, the two organizations announced this week.

ONC Releases Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) developed a framework to help health systems, large practices, health information exchanges and payers to improve their patient demographic data quality.

AMIA, Pew Urge Congress to Ensure ONC has Funding to Implement Cures Provisions

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) have sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to ensure that ONC has adequate funding to implement certain 21st Century Cures Act provisions.

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.