Telehealth Groups Ask Burwell For Relief

Tom Sullivan, | Government Health IT | June 11, 2014

A group of telemedicine and mHealth associations have reminded the new HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell that $36 billion in healthcare costs could be saved with remote monitoring -- providing better care, reduced hospitalizations and readmissions, complication avoidance and improved satisfaction among chronically ill patients.

Standing in the way of that promise, they argued, are policies and payment models that make it harder for healthcare providers to collect reimbursement for services via telehealth tools. Specifically, the American Telemedicine Association called on Burwell to ease these five restrictions:

1. No coverage for about 80 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who happen to live in the 1,200 metropolitan counties not included in the definition of “rura.l”

2. No coverage for “store-and-forward” services (such as transmission of medical images) for the 43 million beneficiaries who live outside of Alaska and Hawaii...