CAP: Telemedicine licensure, reimbursement issues states must address

In its recent report on how states can control healthcare costs and improve care quality, the Center for American Progress touches on the role of telemedicine to achieve those goals.

While telehealth services are "high quality and cost saving," there are barriers to use of such tools, according to the report's authors.

For instance, they say, the issue of state licensure must be addressed. If licensure and practice rules are changed, states can help with the expansion of telemedicine services. The authors note that currently, licenses do not transfer across states, except in Maryland, New York, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, which allow licensure reciprocity from bordering states.

Even other states that allow licenses to out-of-state providers have restrictions in place, according to the authors.

Reimbursement also is a much talked about issue for telemedicine use, and states "should take all available steps to increase reimbursement for telehealth services and to require insurers in the state to cover these services," the report says.

The Federal Communications Commission also is touting the importance of telemedicine.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn recently spoke at the University of Mississippi Medical Center about the role the technology plays in improving quality of care, especially in rural areas of the country, according to the Clarion Ledger. It also has the power to cut healthcare costs, she added.

"What we have found is if you integrate technology properly, these chronic health outcomes that seem to be accepted as a norm can be short-circuited with technology," she said.

A pilot project using telemedicine in the Mississippi Delta showed positive results for helping patients. Two women with diabetes who participated in the project, according to Clyburn, saw "a better quality of life and no hospitalizations in a very short time. This shows the power of connectivity."

To learn more:
- here's the CAP report
- check out the Ledger article

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