The American Telemedicine Association is working with Congress and several federal agencies to develop policy and payment methods for telehealth services that are rapidly gaining popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is it important
Now that President Joe Biden has declared the COVID-19 pandemic over, ATA’s Telehealth Awareness Week A policy update webinar explores how federal and state telehealth policies may be affected when Congress decides whether to end a public health emergency (PHE).
Federal priorities for telehealth evolve as pandemic, Congress lifts restrictions, decides whether Certain restrictions should be permanently lifted.
PHE must be reviewed every 90 days, so Congress will have to re-review mid-year Update October , according to policy experts presented at an online event on Wednesday.
“As we all know, [President] Biden has said in recent days that the pandemic is over, so technical The public health emergency may expire sometime in the near future,” said Megan Herber, director of Faegre Drinker, which advises the ATA and ATA Action on all things federal policy.
Telehealth payment and provider practices are highly regulated at the federal level, said Quinn Shean, Tusk Ventures and ATA and ATA Action’s State Policy Advisor.
But even if providers don’t serve Medicare populations, “Medicare policies trickle down,” Herb added.
For example, before the pandemic, patients had to be in hospitals or clinical settings in rural areas to get Reimbursement for telehealth.
“This is the current status quo — as long as the COVID-19 public health emergency is in place,” He said. Bob explained. But after about five months, “all of these exemptions will automatically disappear unless Congress acts.”
Host Alexis Gilroy, co-head of Jones Day’s healthcare and life sciences business, noted that policy approaches may vary in different circumstances. “Where would you come from based on the particular lane it’s in?”
just remote at the state level There are multiple state priorities in health care policy because states vary in their approach to telehealth coverage requirements for public and private health plans, reimbursement for services provided by telehealth, and eligibility for provision of reimbursable services.
States also vary in how they regulate synchronous and asynchronous telehealth and remote patient monitoring. Shean explained that they vary in what types of providers can offer telehealth, establishing effective patient/provider relationships, and whether out-of-state practitioners can remotely treat patients in the state without a license.
“We have a patchwork of 50 different state requirements here,” she said.
ATA has been focused on developing a consistent regulatory framework so that telehealth can be deployed and fully leveraged across states .
“ATA is committed to a model-neutral policy,” rather than prescribing which tools clinicians choose, she said, Used to provide telemedicine. The ATA is pushing for fair payments for telehealth and home health, as well as licensing flexibility across states.
She said: “It really aligns our state framework with the 21st century model of care, “And states are moving quickly. There have been hundreds of pieces of legislation to update national telehealth policies.
The group is also discussing the future of online prescribing of controlled substances with the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Congress.
Many Shean said that the barriers to telehealth policy are based on the perception that telemedicine Substandard to a degree and romanticizing inpatient care, telemedicine often provides care without prior access to health care.
“We need to recognize the access gaps that telehealth can fill” and recognize the guardrails of telehealth , set up just like any other nursing care, Shean said. And as others enter the space through mergers and acquisitions, they will also have an impact on the direction of telehealth policy, including how to protect patient data. These companies will have more access.
But with more stakeholders pushing for telehealth at the state level, “Having a wider tent now helps Showcasing the different patient populations that can be served here and bringing more attention,” Shean noted.
Under the CARES Act, Congress authorized the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to waive coverage for telehealth certain restrictions.
The agency is able to remove geographic restrictions, expand home care, and increase Medicare coverage through telehealth quantity, etc.
Other legislative proposals, including the Worker Telehealth Benefit Expansion Act , “Telemedicine Promotion Law”, etc., recommend expanding the accessibility of telemedicine.
“Throughout the pandemic, telehealth has proven to be a vital tool for Americans to receive timely and quality care at home ,” R-Mich’s Tim Wahlberg said when introducing the bill at the Capitol in March.
“Especially for rural communities, telemedicine helps remove barriers to care and expand access to specialists opportunity and improved health outcomes.”
“[Congress] urgently needs to act— Don’t wait until four months and twenty days after the pandemic is over; we need some stability,” Herb said.
She concluded: “We would love to make it permanent, and we were These policies are being demanded all the time, so this is nothing new.”
Andrea Fox is a senior editor at Healthcare IT News. Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.