The draft proposal from House Energy and Commerce Committee-- the 21st Century Cures initiative , released Jan. 27--includes telehealth policies but the American Hospital Association (AHA) is pushing for more.
AHA "strongly agrees with your goal of expanding coverage of telehealth services in Medicare," according to a letter sent to committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), referring to the proposal for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a methodology that would expand coverage and payment for telehealth services.
However, AHA disagrees with the part of the proposal that says it only applies if the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finds that the services "would reduce [or would not result in any increase in] net program spending under this title."
The proposal does not address technology limitations in the Medicare program or how remote monitoring will be paid for, according to the AHA. "We also are concerned that the requirement for the Medicare actuary to certify telehealth cost neutrality for specific services would be hard for HHS to operationalize, and would add a time-consuming step when technology is advancing at a rapid pace."
AHA's own recent Trend Watch report identified lower costs and improved care through the use of telemedicine.
AHA says it agrees with the "goal of expanding coverage of telehealth services in Medicare, and appreciates the specification of a mechanism for doing so," but says a more global approach is needed.