This week in Sacramento many telehealth-related bills related made their way out of the Assembly Health Committee on to Appropriations. In particular, AB 744 which would establish payment parity for telehealth services, made it out of Senate Health. However, the bill faces uncertainty due to health plan opposition and a California Health Benefits Review Program analysis which estimates of a total increase in health care costs of $278.2M if the bill passes. Bill advocates may maintain confidence, however, as New Mexico’s governor just signed the state’s own payment parity bill.
This March, an RFI from the bipartisan Congressional Telehealth Caucus asked stakeholders for input on how telehealth and remote patient monitoring could expand access, improve outcomes, reduce costs, and be used more effectively. The current federal statute, which addresses telehealth in the Medicare FFS program, imposes barriers to broader telehealth adoption. Submitted RFI responses include requests ranging from broader coverage of telehealth to specific tweaks to Medicare.
This week, while there were few telehealth and health IT legislative developments in California, other states initiated and/or voted on legislation for the creation of broadband offices and funding mechanisms to increase internet access, a critical component of telehealth’s success. In addition, two newly released surveys accentuate physicians’ growing telehealth adoption, another key element of telehealth’s success. An American Well survey reports a 340% growth rate of telehealth adoption among physicians between 2015 and 2018 and an American College of Physicians survey reveals that 51% of internists work in practices that use at least one form of telehealth.
In California, this week’s legislative developments underscore Senate and Assembly support for telehealth as a care delivery mode. Similar legislation is trending on the federal level as evidenced by the CMS’s new rule that allows Medicare Advantage plans to include telehealth as part of their basic benefit packages.
March 28, 2019 — Now is the time of year high school students hear back about their college applications and decide which school is the right fit to pursue the next chapter of their lives. While recent bribery scandals have put the integrity of the college admissions’ process under a microscope, other recent headlines highlight a much bigger problem in higher education: rising student mental illness.