Alliance News2021-05-05T14:08:38-04:00

2021 Telehealth Summit for Health Systems

Thanks to those who were able to join the Alliance for Connected Care for the virtual Telehealth Summit for Health Systems on April 22-23, 2021. 

The Alliance for Connected Care held its virtual Telehealth Summit for Health Systems on April 22-23, 2021. Attendees heard from federal policymakers from the White House and Congress on policy issues related to telehealth and virtual care, and participated in Breakout Sessions led by health system executives around the following topics: consumer engagement in virtual care, post-pandemic licensure portability, hardwiring virtual care transformation, and improving access across the digital and social divide. This recording includes opening remarks made by speakers on the first day of the Summit.

Slides from the opening session, entitled “A Pivotal Moment for Telehealth & RPM Policy: A Look Ahead to 2021,” can be found here.  

Please note: Only Day 1 of the Summit from 11:30 – 1:30pm ET was open to the press.  The Breakout Sessions were interactive working sessions and were considered off the record. As such, recordings and slides from the Breakout Sessions will not be made available.

Please contact Casey Osgood at casey.osgood@connectwithcare.org with any questions.

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Date: Thursday, April 22 – Friday, April 23, 2021

Time: 11:30am – 2:30pm EST

March 12th, 2021|

Alliance Written Testimony – New York FY2022 Executive Budget

The Alliance submitted written testimony for the New York State FY2022 Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Health, which took place on February 25, 2021.

The Alliance applauds the telehealth-related proposals included in the Governor’s Executive Budget for the State Fiscal Year 2022, and was particularly thrilled to see specific provisions around the creation of an interstate licensure program to authorize out-of-state practitioners licensed in contiguous states or states in the Northeast region to provide telehealth services to patients in New York.

“While we support and appreciate efforts by the State to acknowledge the importance of interstate licensure capabilities and to implement a program to enable such practice, we believe the language as it currently exists is limited in scope both from a geographic standpoint and in the categories of health care services and provider types that can engage in interstate telehealth practice. This, and other aspects of the current legislation being considered, could add an additional burden to New York-based providers and the patients they serve.”

The Alliance offered comments on how to strengthen this provision to ensure patients can access necessary care from providers of their choice and to support New York-based providers in their effort to deliver care across state lines. The Alliance also offered the Medical Excellence Zone as an alternative to the policy as it stands. Key provisions and additional details on the MEZ can be viewed here.

Read our full testimony here and below:

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March 2nd, 2021|

Alliance Letter of Support for Alaska SB 67

The Alliance submitted a letter of support to David Wilson, Chair of the Alaska Senate Health and Social Services Committee, for Senate Bill 67.

The bill would allow Registered and Licensed Practical Nurses from 34 states to practice in Alaska as part of a Multistate Nurse Licensure Compact. These registered and practical nurses would not be subject to the burdensome licensing process. The bill would also allow nurses in Alaska to practice in those 34 participating states. Opening up Alaska to licensed nurses will help provide needed access to care across the state.

Read the full letter here and below:

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March 2nd, 2021|

Alliance Statement for the Record to House Energy & Commerce Committee Hearing on Telehealth

ALLIANCE FOR CONNECTED CARE STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD

“The Future of Telehealth: How COVID-19 is Changing the Delivery of Virtual Care”

The Alliance submitted a letter to the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health on the ““The Future of Telehealth: How COVID-19 is Changing the Delivery of Virtual Care.”

The Alliance provided 1) overarching comments about telehealth research and evidence, 2) recommendations for telehealth expansions that Congress should consider and 3) recommendations for telehealth “guardrail” provisions that Congress could consider.

Top Telehealth Priorities
These priorities were also outlined in the July 2020 group letter to Congress with 340 endorsing organizations. The following four items should be the core of any serious telehealth expansion.

  • Removal all geographic and originating site restrictions on telehealth in Medicare. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the need for telehealth in rural areas, in urban areas, at work, at school, at home and many other locations. These provisions are obsolete and outdated and should be removed from statute entirely. The location of the patient should not matter for telehealth.
  • Remove distant site provider list restrictions to allow all Medicare providers who deliver telehealth-appropriate services to provide those services to beneficiaries through telehealth when clinically appropriate and covered by Medicare – including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, and others.
  • Ensure Federally Qualified Health Centers, Critical Access Hospitals, and Rural Health Clinics can furnish telehealth in Medicare and be reimbursed fairly for those services, despite unique payment characteristics and challenges for each. Please note that critical access hospitals are sometimes omitted from this list, but are a crucial component of a healthcare system able to reach all Medicare beneficiaries and must be able to directly bill for telehealth services.
  • Make permanent the Health and Human Services (HHS) emergency waiver authority for virtual care so that it can be quickly leveraged during future emergencies. Telehealth has maintained critical connections between patients and healthcare practitioners during the pandemic, and should be enabled for a future wildfire, flood, hurricane, or other emergency.
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March 2nd, 2021|

Alliance Written Testimony in Maryland

The Alliance submitted written testimony offering the Medical Excellence Zone as an alternative to Maryland House Bill 732.

“We request that the Committee consider an alternative called the Medical Excellence Zone. The Medical Excellence Zone is an area defined by multiple state borders where medical practitioners may practice across state lines. Practitioners may not establish physical practices in states where they are not licensed but as long as they are licensed and in good standing with one state in the Zone, they may practice across state lines.” Key provisions and additional details on the MEZ can be viewed here.

Read our full testimony here and below:

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February 16th, 2021|

Alliance Letter Regarding Telehealth Fraud

The Alliance for Connected Care sent a letter to HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) Principal Deputy Inspector General Grimm urging OIG to update posts on “telehealth fraud” to better distinguish traditional fraud from telehealth fraud. The Alliance supports several recommendations to address improper telehealth payments:

  • Conduct periodic post-payment reviews to disallow payments for errors for which telehealth
    claim edits cannot be implemented (for example, unallowable originating sites or unallowable
    means of communication
  • Work with MACs to implement all telehealth claim edits listed in the Medicare Claims Processing
    Manual;
  • Offer education and training sessions to practitioners on Medicare telehealth requirements and
    related resources.

In addition, the Alliance requested OIG consider meeting with experts to learn about the tools and tactics that can best differentiate legitimate telehealth providers from fraud actors pretending to offer telehealth.

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February 15th, 2021|

Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery Request for Information (RFI)

The Alliance for Connected Care submitted comments in response to the HHS request for information on the health and economic emergency created by the COVID-19.

The Alliance responded to over 20 recent policy changes with recommendations. We believe some should become permanent and some were only appropriate during the PHE and should cease at its end.

Review our full comments here and below:

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January 8th, 2021|

Input for the CONNECT for Health Act of 2021

The Alliance for Connected Care provided feedback on the Senate Telehealth Working Group and Congressional Telehealth Caucus’ request for information (RFI) on
the 117th Congress’ iteration of the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act.

The Alliance provided 1) overarching comments about top priorities for telehealth legislation, 2) recommend new provisions for inclusion in the CONNECT package and 3) provide feedback on the continued relevancy of 2019 CONNECT provisions.

Review the Alliance’s comments here and below

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January 8th, 2021|

Alliance Joins Letter to Hill in Support of Temporary Extension of DEA Waiver in COVID Relief Package

The $908 Billion Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020 – While its outcome remains very much in doubt, the $908 Billion bipartisan compromise proposal put forward in the Senate includes a provision to temporarily extend the DEA waiver of the in-person requirement through the end of 2021.

We urge Congress to extend the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) waiver of the prior in-person requirement before telemedicine is allowed for prescribing of controlled substances under the Ryan Haight Act through the end of 2021. The DEA has waived this requirement for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). To provide stability and time for work on a more permanent policy, the waiver should be extended at least until the end of 2021. This provision is included in the $908 billion Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020.

View the letter

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December 15th, 2020|

Digital Health Groups Call on Congress to Extend Telehealth Access

The Alliance for Connected Care, American Telemedicine Association, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, Connected Health Initiative, eHealth Initiative, Health Innovation Alliance, HIMSS and the PCHAlliance called on Congressional leaders to act to preserve access to telehealth as part of an end of year package.

“While we seek permanent reforms to enable Medicare beneficiaries to continue to access services via telehealth once the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) ends, we write today to express our support for provisions, proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators, that would extend temporary telehealth flexibilities until the end of 2021 in an end-of-year package to fund the federal government. We believe this extension is a reasonable policy that will help provide certainty for patients and providers as we work together on permanent reform in 2021.”

“Since many of these needed policies are contingent upon the PHE, millions of Americans risk losing access to vital health care services unless you and your colleagues takes specific actions. Additionally, the continued risk of telehealth flexibilities ending with each subsequent 90-day renewal of the PHE adds additional uncertainty to an already strained health care delivery system. Patients and their health care professionals should not have to worry if they will be able to continue to receive or deliver necessary care.”

Read the Letter to Congressional Leaders on Extending Telehealth Flexbilities 12-11-2020

December 11th, 2020|
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