Several healthcare organizations have sent a letter to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) regarding the use of alternative data sources for cost estimates and analyses of telemedicine utilization in the Medicare program.
In the letter, penned by Ascension Health, CHRISTUS Health, Stanford Health Care, and others, the authors point to evidence of telemedicine’s effectiveness from the commercial sector, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Medicaid, and other programs when producing future cost estimates and analyses of telemedicine utilization in the Medicare program.
The authors note that they recognize the difficulty of finding sufficient Medicare data on telemedicine given that it is virtually unused in the Medicare program. “However, alternative data sources can and should be used to inform and produce an analysis of providing Medicare beneficiaries access to telemedicine, including telehealth and remote patient monitoring,” they write.
It continues, “The lack of Medicare data is understandable given the outdated statutory restrictions on telemedicine: since federal law prevents many providers from being paid when they use telemedicine to serve Medicare beneficiaries, obviously, little data is available. We have been encouraged by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ increasing—but limited—allowance of telemedicine as part of new demonstration projects, but we are concerned that it will be too difficult to isolate telemedicine’s impact, as it is one of many variables measured.”