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Stakeholders Urge for Eased Telehealth Restrictions

October 1, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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A group of stakeholders has sent a letter to the Committee on Energy & Commerce requesting the expanded use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring for Medicare and other types of patients.

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA), Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and various other industry stakeholders penned a letter to Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) of the Committee on Energy & Commerce requesting that Congress ease restrictions in the Social Security Act that they say have placed constraints on telehealth. The law has limited reimbursement for telehealth to only include those in rural areas.

The stakeholders commended the lawmakers on the 21st Century Cures initiative, which was created by the Committee on Energy & Commerce. They say that eased restrictions will allow telehealth and remote patient monitoring to be a cornerstone of that initiative.

“To aid with your consideration of these important issues as the 21st Century Cures Initiative progresses, the undersigned stakeholders have worked to Identify consensus recommendations for beneficial, short-and long-term actions that should take to immediately address gaps under Medicare that inhibit a modern, 21st century health care system,” the stakeholders wrote to the lawmakers.

  • Those specific recommendations include:
    Facilitate care for Medicare patients by allowing video visits and remote monitoring;
  • Authorizing the use of telehealth for all accountable care organizations (ACOs) and bundled payments programs;
  • Authorizing the use of remote patient monitoring services for various chronic illnesses;
  • Authorizing the use of telehealth payments for population health management to include all critical access hospitals and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs);

The ATA has lobbied for eased telemedicine restrictions in reference to the Social Security Act before. Most recently, they sent a letter to then-incoming HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, asking for her waive the regulatory restrictions on the use of telemedicine.

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