Comments on Senate chronic care policies focus on telehealth

Several healthcare stakeholders have submitted comments to the Senate Finance Committee on its chronic care policy document, making recommendations on the role of telemedicine and remote monitoring in the efforts.

The committee established the Chronic Care Working Group in May to develop solutions to common problems among chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries. It broke the proposals into several categories, including patient empowerment in the care delivery, high-quality home care, expanding technology access; expanding team-based care access and population health management.

In its letter, CHIME highlights four areas of focus for HIT use in chronic care:

  • Removing barriers: The committee should ensure that policies it creates do not interfere with others put forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, especially in regard to mandates in the Meaningful Use program, CHIME says. 
  • Interoperability: CHIME points out the need for increased exchange of data, which it says requires policies that support interoperability. In addition, it calls for a national patient identifier. "Foundational to coordinated care is the need to accurately match patients with their healthcare data across providers, systems and states," CHIME says.
  • Telehealth: One of the major barriers to this technology is reimbursement for the services by payers; to that end, CHIME asks the committee to consider state-to-state licensure issues, as well as the demand for parity in reimbursement. It also calls for stronger telehealth policies under Medicare.
  • Quality measurement: As healthcare shifts from volume- to value-based payments, Congress should focus a strategy that promotes analyzing quality in healthcare, CHIME says. It also urges the committee "to support policies that will harmonize quality measure reporting across federal programs in order to eliminate the duplicative and burdensome reporting of meaningless measures."

As for the American College of Physicians (ACP), the group supports the committee's proposals to adjust the telehealth service requirements so Accountable Care Organizations in two-sided risk models can receive a waiver on the original site requirement for telemedicine services. ACP also wants the committee to "broaden this waiver authority to allow all MSSP tracks to receive a waiver for the removal of the geographic restriction and originating site requirement for the use of telehealth services."

The American Hospital Association (AHA) also supports such telehealth policies. In its letter, AHA "strongly urges Congress to provide dedicated funding to conduct research to determine the benefit of telehealth compared to its cost."

To learn more:
- check out the committee's policy document (.pdf)
- here's CHIME's letter (.pdf)
- read the ACP's comments (.pdf)
- check out the AHA letter (.pdf)