WASHINGTON, DC (October 3, 2019): Health Innovation Alliance (HIA) responded today to the Trump administration's enactment of an Executive Order entitled, "Protecting and Improving Medicare For Our Nation’s Seniors."
The Executive Order tasks the Secretary of Health and Human Services with proposing a number of regulatory steps to expand the availability of telehealth in Medicare, such as:
Promoting "innovations in supplemental benefits and telehealth services" within Medicare Advantage plans.
Allowing providers offering services via telehealth to fulfill network adequacy requirements in Medicare Advantage plans.
Streamlining Medicare's approval, coverage, and coding process so that innovative products are brought to market faster, and so that advances in telehealth services and similar technologies "are appropriately reimbursed and widely available."
"Health Innovation Alliance applauds the administration's work to further integrate telehealth across the Medicare space," said HIA Senior Director of Government Affairs Catherine Pugh. "By leveraging the power of telehealth to fulfill network adequacy requirements in Medicare Advantage and taking new steps to ensure that the Medicare bureaucracy does not slow walk the uptake of new technologies, the administration is poised to expand access to high quality, cost-saving, technology-enabled care for millions. In 2019, no Medicare enrollee's zip code or specific plan type should hamper their ability to receive 21st-century care. The encouraging steps outlined today offer greater hope of achieving that goal."
As the leading proponent of expanded access to technology-enabled care, HIA has long urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to consider advances in telehealth when formulating network adequacy requirements. In a 2018 comment letter, HIA (then known as "Health IT Now") said "CMS should allow plans to meet network adequacy requirements via use of remote care providers ... Allowing MA plans to satisfy network adequacy requirements via telehealth would help expand options for Medicare beneficiaries. We support making this change as quickly as feasible."
Also in 2018, HIA worked to secure the inclusion of telehealth as a basic Medicare Advantage benefit as a part of the Bipartisan Budget Act. The administration's Executive Order complements this earlier law by calling for a regulation that will further enhance innovations in telehealth within the MA program.