Health Policy Round Up 6.20.19

 

On June 13th, Governor Newsom signed a $215 billion budget, the largest budget in California’s history. In addition to expanded allocations for housing and education, lawmakers and the Governor agreed on two key healthcare spending increases: expanded Medi-Cal coverage to include undocumented immigrants between the ages of 19 and 25 and allocated funding for additional Covered California subsidies. In addition to taking steps towards universal coverage for Californians, these big ticket healthcare priorities may impact the spread of telehealth and other health IT initiatives.

 

Legislative & Regulatory Developments

News Articles, Research & Reports

Funding Opportunities

Upcoming Hearings & Meetings

Legislative & Regulatory Developments

California

AB 74 Budget Act of 2019:  On June 13th, state legislators passed and the Governor signed the $215 billion bill which includes several big-ticket health care priorities that may impact the spread of telehealth and other health IT initiatives.

  • Medi-Cal expansion for undocumented youth up to age 26. With the state’s existing provider shortages, expanding coverage to more people may require the use of technology to provide more services.
  • Subsidies for individuals and families up to 600% of the federal poverty level, higher than the federal level of 400% to purchase coverage on Covered California. The majority of Covered California plans offer telehealth services to members. These subsidies hinge on the passage of AB 414, which would impose an individual mandate to have health coverage in California.

However, the budget did not include trailer bill language to extend funding for the virtual dental home pilot project or for an e-consult pilot project, both of which had been promoted in the Assembly.

AB 744: Establishes payment parity for telehealth for all payers.

  • Set for Senate Health Committee hearing on June 26th

AB 1264: Specifies that an appropriate examination prior to dispensing drugs to a patient can be achieved through telehealth.

  • Amended to apply to all drugs, not just contraceptives

AB 1494: Requires that Medi-Cal reimburse providers, including FQHCs, who furnish services via telehealth during states of emergency without prior face-to-face visits.

  • Amended to include UC, city and county operated clinics

AB 1529: Reinforces that out-of-state providers who deliver medical services via telephone to California patients must comply with California’s state licensing authorities.

  • Passed Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on June 10th

SB 24: Requires public colleges to provide access to medical abortion services on campus.

  • Passed Assembly Health Committee, refereed to Assembly Education Committee

News Articles, Research & Reports

News: The Insider Story of uBiome Business Insider digs into how a “break things and move fast” mentality led to an FBI raid at the  telegenetics startup. Per the article, FBI interviews with former employees revealed that while uBiome “started out with a strong emphasis on science” it may have “cut corners in a quest to show faster growth.” Read more here.

News: New York’s Mount Sinai to Open AI institute: Tony James of Blackstone and his wife have donated $100M to Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine to create an AI and digital pathology research institute. The institute’s focus will be to “seamlessly integrate AI, data science and genomic screening to advance clinical practice and patient outcomes.” Other hospitals and medical schools including Cleveland Clinic have opened similar institutes in recent years. Read more here.

News: FCC to Vote on $100 Million Telehealth Initiative in July FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr announced this week that the FCC will meet to vote on the Connected Care Pilot Program, which supports telehealth access for low-income Americans. “With advances in telemedicine, health care is no longer limited to the confines of traditional brick and mortar health care facilities,” said Carr during a visit to a community clinic in Laurel Fork, VA. A press release from the FCC about cites research on connected care’s cost savings and improved health outcomes. Read more here.

 

 

Funding Opportunities

Use of Technology to Enhance Patient Outcomes and Prevent Illness (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) NIH seeks proposals on the use of technologies, including remote healthcare, that improve patient outcomes. Ongoing standard NIH application dates.

Intervention Research to Improve Native American Health (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) NIH seeks proposals on exploratory developmental research to improve Native American health. Ongoing standard NIH application dates.

Pragmatic Research in Healthcare Settings to Improve Diabetes and Obesity Prevention and Care (R18 Clinical Trial Required): NIH seeks proposals that test innovative approaches to diabetes and obesity prevention. Ongoing standard NIH application dates.

Planning Grants for Pragmatic Research in Healthcare Settings to Improve Diabetes and Obesity Prevention and Care (R34 Clinical Trial Required): NIH seeks proposals for pilot projects that test innovative approaches to diabetes and obesity prevention. Ongoing standard NIH application dates.

Upcoming Hearings

June 18th, 20th, 25th: California Assembly Health bill hearings

June 19th: California Senate Health bill hearing

July 3rd: AB 744 California Senate Health bill hearing