WASHINGTON, DC (September 12, 2017): Health IT Now – a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers supporting health information technology to improve patient outcomes – submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the Medicare Program; Revisions to Payment Policies Under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Revisions to Part B for CY 2018; Medicare Shared Savings Program Requirements; and Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program proposed rule. Recommendations from the coalition included:
- Telehealth: HITN notes its strong support of proposed additions to covered telehealth services, and encourages CMS to go further by adding Medicare reimbursement for physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy services, as well as adding diabetes educators to the list of providers eligible to bill for telehealth services.
The comment letter deems Medicare’s treatment of telehealth services as “woefully out of date” and notes that telehealth accounted for one percent of Medicare spending in 2015. HITN recommends changes in physician licensure barriers for use of telehealth in Medicare, similar to the reforms recently announced by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and championed by HITN.
- Appropriate Use Criteria for Advanced Diagnostic Imaging Services: HITN states its support for the delay in implementation of the Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) program, but notes that it remains concerned about the availability of tools for providers to successfully comply with the program and the lack of interoperability between electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical decision support mechanisms (CDSMs). HITN does not believe the use of stand-alone CDSMs to be a workable solution for this disparity, as it requires providers to go outside of their workflow. HITN calls for administrative reforms to incentivize private-sector developed appropriate use criteria (AUC) in the Medicare program.
- Diabetes Prevention Program: HITN explains its opposition to CMS’ proposal to not cover provisions of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) via technology; noting that doing so will cause CMS to “continue to lag behind all other health payers – including Medicaid, the private sector, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program – in recognizing the promise of utilizing technology to deliver healthcare.” HITN concludes that it is “only commonsense” for CMS to treat virtual DPP just as it does in-person DPP services.
About Health IT Now: Health IT Now (HITN) is a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers that support incentives to deploy health information technology to improve care, patient outcomes, and to lower costs. Learn more at www.healthitnow.org.