BluePath Health Blog – Previous Posts
During third week of May, legislative appropriations committees met to vote on bills with a fiscal impact. Among the bills that made it out of the committee were several that impact telehealth services in California health plans and programs, including AB 744 that would require payment parity for telehealth services by health insurers and plans. The Governor of New Mexico signed a similar payment parity bill this year and Texas legislators just sent a payment parity bill to the Governor’s desk for consideration.
The opioid crisis continues to wreak havoc on America’s communities.To battle this on-going crisis, companies are developing and offering solutions that combine in-person care and digital tools to connect patients with the treatment they need and enable providers and health systems to identify and treat opioid abuse problems as they arise. These offerings bring leading-edge technologies, including digital health tools, telehealth platforms, computer-aided decision systems and data analytics, to providers and patients to bring the opioid epidemic to its knees.
On May 9th, Governor Newsom released his revised proposal for the state budget, which includes $20 million to support a five-year expansion of the state’s Whole Person Care pilots and $98 million to expand Medi-Cal to all undocumented, uninsured individuals up to age 25. These revisions reflect Governor Newsom’s emphasis on improving Califonia’s access to mental health services.
May 10, 2019 — Telehealth and other digital health tools are being promoted and supported publicly by global and governmental bodies. A new WHO Guideline reviews telehealth and digital health tools’ global effectiveness and affordability and U.S. government agency reports and grants support telehealth for effective healthcare delivery.
This week we review state legislation and proposed regulations that acknowledge telehealth as a network adequacy standard for health plans. Several state, including California, are determining how plans will account for telehealth provider networks as they try to meet access standards with telehealth access. In the coming weeks, several California bills affecting telehealth are slated to be heard by the Appropriations Committees.
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.
The weekly BluePath Health Policy Roundup focuses on legislative, legal, and policy developments in California and across the country that affect health technology. Each roundup summarizes legislative hearings, funding opportunities, and any published research findings or expert analyses.
March 22, 2019 — Electronic consultations — or “e-consults” — first launched in 2005 by San Francisco General Hospital and the San Francisco Health Network, connect primarycare providers and specialists through electronic communications to deliver efficient and effective care. Today e-consult’s multiple benefits, which include expanded specialist care access, lower costs, improved care quality, and more, are now being used by large health systems.
Teens need “headspace”: How teen drop-in centers provide brick-and-mortar and virtual access points to youth mental health services
March 11, 2019 — Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation has created an innovative, successful model called headspace that combines the traditional teen drop-in center with virtual mental health care, among other offerings. Stanford Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is adapting this model to meet the mental health needs of Santa Clara County youth. Recently branded “allcove”, the first of these centers will open in late 2019.
Health Policy & Legislative Lowdown: Can California move closer to universal coverage by lowering costs and expanding access to coverage?
February 22, 2019 — Proposed state legislation for an individual mandate, advanced premium tax credits, and Medi-Cal expansion to all individual regardless of immigration status could move California closer to universal coverage.
February 19, 2019 — With the increase in adolescent and young adult mental health issues, some digital and virtual care providers are addressing this growing market need. Our review of current offerings, which include virtual visits and CBT and mindfulness digital tools, uncovers an appetite among adolescents and youth for digital solutions and also reveals a need for more clinical, provider-to-patient treatment solutions.
February 7, 2019 — Despite the overwhelming growth of adolescent mental health issues, few digital mental health services and product vendors are focusing on adolescents due to perceived issues of tech’s impact on teen mental health as well as consent, reimbursement, and other utilization concerns. Our research and experience, however, shows that these barriers, like many others in digital health, can be and are being overcome.
January 29, 2019 — If 2019 is truly going to be the year of telehealth, payers, providers and government policy makers need to be on the same page. That page is virtual first, because virtual care is the path to high-quality, cost-effective care delivery.
Mental Health Featured Prominently in California Governor’s Proposed Budget: Telehealth Can Help Expand Mental Health Access
January 24, 2019 — Mental health is a key concern of Governor Newsom and his administration, which proposed $200 million in new General Fund spending for mental health programs this January. At the same time, however, California is facing a shortage of mental health providers. Telehealth is the key solution to expanding access, reducing cost, and improving quality of mental health care for Californians.