Health IT Now Calls on Congress to Remove Telehealth Restrictions

Washington, D.C. – Today, Health IT Now’s Executive Director Joel White issued the following statement in response to the 2014 telehealth reimbursement data provided by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to The Robert J. Waters Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law.

 “It is no surprise that under the current outdated system, we’ve spent so few resources on providing valuable telehealth services to seniors. The fact that in 2014 Medicare reimbursed $14 million for telehealth services out of a total of approximately $615 billion – merely 0.0023 percent of total spending – reflects the low priority placed on telehealth by Congress. In the private sector, at the VA, and in the DOD, new technologies are being integrated directly into the acute medical benefit, but Medicare’s law is stuck in the 20th century.

 “We encourage Congress, through 21st Century Cures and other initiatives, to work to remove current barriers to telehealth services under Medicare. One promising area would be to vary reimbursement levels for telehealth services. Health IT Now believes that the use of technology in health care can lower costs, and this should be taken into consideration when developing reimbursement rates for services provided via telehealth. We do not believe that telehealth visits should be automatically reimbursed at the same amount as in-person visits. Unfortunately, some cling to the notion we must have parity in reimbursement, even though studies show the costs of providing services are less. That makes no sense. If it costs less, we should pay less.

 “Any telehealth legislation to remove telehealth barriers under Medicare will not be complete without addressing interstate medical licensure. In today’s mobile society, people are traveling more and using technology we never imagined just a short time ago. In order to provide quality care, promote care coordination, and reduce redundancy in the healthcare system, Health IT Now believes that Medicare doctors should be able to treat Medicare patients across state lines without having to obtain multiple state licenses.

 “Health IT Now stands ready to work with Congress to bring the Medicare program into the 21st century by using telehealth to allow our nation’s seniors access to the right care when and where they need it.”

About Health IT Now:

Health IT Now (HITN) is a broad based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers and payers that supports incentives to deploy heath information technology to improve care, provider performance, patient outcomes, and to lower costs.