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Although telemedicine has made many technological advancements in the past decade, it still faces several legal and financial barriers to widespread use and acceptance.  Chief among these are poor reimbursement policies; according to the American Telemedicine Association, 29 states earned an “F” for coverage and reimbursement standards.  States have attempted to rectify some of these payment barriers with state telehealth parity acts, which require that telehealth visits be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits.  On July 7th, Deleware became the 29th State to enact telehealth parity laws.

Congress is now considering a nation-wide telehealth parity act.  Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) has sponsored the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015 in the House, along with co-sponsors Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS), Diane Black (R-TN), and Peter Welch (D-VT).  The Act  is intended to modernize the way Medicare reimburses telehealth services and to expand coverage for Medicare beneficiaries.  
Continue Reading The Proposed Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015 Would Expand Medicare Reimbursement for Telehealth Services

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) implemented the Independence at Home Demonstration program in January 2012.  The Demonstration is testing whether home-based care can reduce the need for hospitalization, improve patient and caregiver satisfaction, and lead to better health and lower costs to Medicare.  The Demonstration is part of the new framework established by the Affordable Care Act, which moves away from a fee-for-service payment model towards one that rewards doctors based on the quality, not the quantity, of care they give patients.  CMS aims to use alternative payment models to tie 30 percent of Medicare payments to quality and value by 2016, and to so tie 50 percent of payments by 2018.
Continue Reading The Independence at Home Demonstration Project Completes its First Year and Saves over $25 Million

On April 10th, CMS issued a new proposed rule modifying Stage 2 requirements for meaningful use under the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive program. According to CMS, the rule is “intended to be responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns in 2015.” The newly proposed modifications are also intended to “allow providers to focus more closely on the advanced use of certified EHR technology.” This rule is separate from the proposed rule implementing Stage 3 of the meaningful use objectives, which CMS released earlier this month.
Continue Reading CMS Releases Proposed Rules Modifying Stage 2 of EHR’s Meaningful Use Requirements

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released proposed rules for Stage 3 of the EHR meaningful use program. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) concurrently released proposed certification criteria for EHR technology.  The full text of the ONC proposal can be found here.

According to CMS, the Stage 3 rules are intended to build upon the groundwork laid by Stages 1 and 2. The rules aim to increase the interoperable health data sharing among providers and focus on the advanced use of EHR technology.  CMS has streamlined the attestation requirement in the Stage 3 proposed rules.  The proposed rules set forth eight objectives that providers must successfully attest to beginning in 2017 in order to receive an incentive.  To satisfy a given objective however, providers would only be required to complete a specified portion of the objective’s associated measures. In this way, providers have the flexibility to choose the associated measures most relevant to their unique practice setting.
Continue Reading CMS Releases Proposed Rules for Stage 3 of EHR’s Meaningful Use Program