Will Congress Come Together for Telemedicine?

Posted by Marc Goldsand on February 05, 2016
Healthcare, Medicare, Telehealth, Telemedicine / No Comments

Consistent with what we have been seeing in our own practice, and consumers’ growing demand for better access to telemedicine services, a bi-partisan movement is growing in both houses of Congress to expand telehealth services, improve health outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs. On Wednesday February 5, 2016, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act (s. 2484), which seeks to overhaul Medicare’s treatment of the practice of telemedicine and its related technologies. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Diane Black (R-TN), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Gregg Harper (R-MS). According to the Senate bill’s sponsors, the CONNECT for Health Act would:

  1. Create a bridge program to help providers transition to the goals of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) through using telehealth and RPM without most of the 1834(m) restrictions contained in the aforementioned Senate bill;
  2. Allow telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring to be used by qualifying participants in alternative payment models, without most of the aforementioned 1834(m) restrictions;
  3. Permit the use of remote patient monitoring for certain patients with chronic conditions;
  4. Allow, as originating sites, telestroke evaluation and management sites; Native American health service facilities; and dialysis facilities for home dialysis patients in certain cases;
  5. Permit further telehealth and RPM in community health centers and rural health clinics;
  6. Allow telehealth and RPM to be basic benefits in Medicare Advantage, without most of the aforementioned 1834(m) restrictions; and
  7. Clarify that the provision of telehealth or RPM technologies made under Medicare by a health care provider for the purpose of furnishing these services shall not be considered “remuneration.”

So far, the following organizations have publically endorsed the bill:

  • AARP
  • ACT | The App Association
  • Airstrip
  • Alliance for Aging Research
  • Alliance for Connected Care
  • Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP)
  • Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
  • America’s Essential Hospitals (AEH)
  • America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)
  • American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
  • American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
  • American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE)
  • American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • American Medical Group Association (AMGA)
  • American Nurses Association (ANA)
  • American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
  • American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • American Society of Nephrology (ASN)
  • American Telemedicine Association (ATA)
  • American Well
  • Anthem
  • Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare
  • Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness (ABHW)
  • CAPG
  • Cerner
  • DaVita
  • Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB)
  • Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA)
  • Health Care Chaplaincy Network
  • Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC)
  • Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)
  • Intel
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • LifeWIRE
  • NAADAC
  • National Association for Home Care & Hospice
  • National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL)
  • National Association of ACOs (NAACOS)
  • National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)
  • National Council for Behavioral Health
  • National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
  • National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved
  • Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHA)
  • Population Health Alliance
  • Qualcomm Incorporated (and Qualcomm Life)
  • Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)
  • The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC)
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society
  • The Jewish Federations of North America
  • Third Way
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) Center for Telehealth
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)
  • University of Virginia (UVA) Center for Telehealth

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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Is This The Year Florida Recognizes Direct Primary Care?

Posted by Marc Goldsand on February 03, 2016
Affordable Care Act, DPC, Healthcare / No Comments

shutterstock_128160911Florida House Bill 37 and Florida Senate Bill 132, similar bills aiming to expressly authorize and regulate direct primary care medical home plans in the State of Florida (“DPCs”) and both stating that DPCs are not “insurance” under State law, have been smoothly sailing through committees in their respective chambers. The House Bill has already passed through the Select Committee on Affordable Healthcare Access, the Finance and Tax Committee, and the Health and Human Resources Committee. Its next step is a vote in front of the entire House. The Senate Bill cleared the Health and Policy Committee, but no word yet from the Banking and Insurance and Fiscal Policy Committees. At some point before the session ends on March 11, 2016, if they continue to move forward, the bills will be consolidated and approved by both chambers, after which the final bill will be subject to approval or veto of Governor Rick Scott. Passage is by no means certain, but there appears to be an appetite for this law with – so far – no real opposition this year.

 DPCs are private payment agreements between primary care physicians and their patients, whereby patients typically pay low dollar (perhaps $75 to $100) monthly payments directly to the provider for primary care services, in lieu of typical insurance covering primary care services.  In return for the monthly payments (which are easily collected by credit card or cash, without the need for insurance/managed care code-based reimbursement billing), primary care providers offer at little or no additional charge an array of primary care services to the member patients. When paired with a high-deductible “wrap-around” insurance policy, the DPCs comport with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.     

 

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