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

Telerehabilitation Has Potential, But More Research, Funding, And Advocacy Are Needed

Health Affairs: Telerehabilitation Has Potential, But More Research, Funding, And Advocacy Are Needed

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS did not provide reimbursement for telehealth services for physical therapists. However, this reimbursement restriction was temporarily waived during the public health emergency related to the pandemic. The expanded Telehealth Access Act of 2021 (HR2168/S3193), if approved, would permanently allow physical therapists and other providers designated by CMS to provide telehealth services under Medicare. This article will review existing evidence on the use of telerehabilitation, identify barriers to the effective implementation of telerehabilitation, and suggest potential areas that professional advocacy and policy can address.

January 5th, 2023|

Sociodemographic Correlates of Affordable Community Behavioral Health Treatment Facility Availability in Florida: A Cross-Sectional Study

Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research: Sociodemographic Correlates of Affordable Community Behavioral Health Treatment Facility Availability in Florida: A Cross-Sectional Study

This study assessed neighborhood-level sociodemographic attributes to characterize the availability of behavioral health treatment facilities in Florida. The study found that areas with greater proportion of non-Latino Black and Latino residents were associated with higher behavioral health treatment facility density. Stark rural–urban disparities in behavioral health treatment availability present opportunities to prioritize telehealth and mobile interventions and improve treatment utilization.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [1.02 MB]

January 4th, 2023|

Top Accomplishments 2022

Share:

Building off of the transformation of telehealth access since 2020, the Alliance has continued to drive the advocacy steps needed for permanent telehealth expansion. We are excited to successfully hold on to important expansions and continue progress in 2023.

Alliance Top Accomplishments

1 A temporary two-year extension of all Medicare telehealth in the fiscal year (FY) 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill was a major Alliance accomplishment. The Alliance has been calling for a two-year extension since 2021 – citing the need to create for predictability for patients and clinicians while we continue to work toward permanent telehealth authorization.

  • The Alliance lobbied heavily for this expansion, led numerous advocacy letters with hundreds of signers, and most importantly – built the evidence base needed to support policy action.
  • Notably, this expansion also includes a two-year delay of patient-harming in-person requirements on mental health in Medicare.
  • On top of all this – it was the second legislative extension this year, expanding upon the short-term extension we secured in the spring of 2022.

2 A crucial two-year extension of commercial market telehealth flexibilities for individuals and families with high deductible health plans coupled with a health savings accounts (HDHP-HSA) allowing employers and health plans have to provide pre-deductible coverage of telehealth services. This policy is a game changer for the 32 million Americans who would otherwise have to think twice about out-of-pocket costs in accessing care.

  • The Alliance led other groups on numerous comment letters, supported Congressional member advocacy letters, and continued to build the evidence base for how these important provisions impact individuals and families.
  • Progress in this space is particularly notable because major wins in spring 2022 and December 2022 reversed a failure to extend this policy in December 2021.

3 Major progress in advancing cross-state licensure for telehealth and the need to reform outdated licensure laws that impose barriers in access to care for patients. The Alliance continues to be regularly consulted as an authority on these challenges and opportunities to advance them.

  • The Alliance helped drive forward a new Model Telehealth Law with the Uniform Law Commission telehealth working group, which published its Uniform Telehealth Act in July 2022.
  • The Alliance actively supported a number of state legislative initiatives and made headway on related areas, such as ensuring clinical trials are able to be managed across state lines – which is now recognized as an important access exception by the Federation of State Medical Boards. We are looking forward to significant new wins in 2023.

See here or below for the Alliance’s top accomplishments in 2022.

The Alliance’s expertise was quoted on average of

1.3

times per week

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [330.59 KB]

January 3rd, 2023|

Environmental Impact of Ambulatory Telehealth Use by a Statewide University Health System During COVID-19

Journal of Telemedicine and eHealth: Environmental Impact of Ambulatory Telehealth Use by a Statewide University Health System During COVID-19 

A study by UC Davis Health researchers assessed telehealth visits’ carbon footprint and their potential savings in lives, costs and time compared to in-person visits. The study found substantial savings for patients and the environment, including eliminating the need to commute 53,664,391 miles. Telehealth also saved an estimated 204 years of travel time, $33,540,244 travel-related costs and 42.4 injuries and 0.7 fatalities. The findings showed that telehealth can be a safe, efficient and cost-effective method to address climate change. Researchers recommended telehealth ambulatory services as a patient-friendly mode of care, even when the pandemic is over.

December 23rd, 2022|

The Health Plan Environment in California Contributed to Differential Use of Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Health Affairs: The Health Plan Environment in California Contributed to Differential Use of Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Differential patient and provider access to technology and resources has raised concerns that existing health disparities may be extenuated by shifts to virtual care. This study examines the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, to examine potential disparities in the use of telehealth. Researchers found that lower-income, non-White, and non-English-speaking people were more likely to use telehealth. These differences were driven by enrollment in a clinically and financially integrated care delivery system, Kaiser Permanente. The study suggests that access to integrated care may be more important to the adoption of health technology than patient-level differences.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [710.62 KB]

December 23rd, 2022|

Federally Qualified Health Centers Use of Telehealth to Deliver Integrated Behavioral Health Care During COVID-19

Community Mental Health Journal: Federally Qualified Health Centers Use of Telehealth to Deliver Integrated Behavioral Health Care During COVID-19

Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) transitioned to deliver care via telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study reviewed how FQHCs adopted integrated behavioral health (IBH) using telehealth. Nine interviews with FQHC administrators resulted in the four themes: telehealth was essential; core components of IBH were impacted; payment parity and reimbursement were a concern; and telehealth addressed workforce issues. Findings confirm the necessity of telehealth for FQHCs during COVID-19, with additional support.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [565.82 KB]

December 22nd, 2022|

State Telemedicine Coverage Requirements Continue to Evolve

The Commonwealth Fund: State Telemedicine Coverage Requirements Continue to Evolve

As telemedicine coverage requirements evolve, some states have begun to require coverage of audio-only telephone visits, exempt behavioral health care from limits on telephone visits, and protect patients’ access to their providers. This report from the Commonwealth Fund details state legislation enacted since March 2021, finding that many states have taken more nuanced routes with regard to telehealth regulations, likely influenced by their early pandemic experiences. The report also details the positive impact telehealth has had on access to behavioral health services, as 40 percent of behavioral health visits during the pandemic occurred through telehealth.

December 20th, 2022|

Access and Coverage for Mental Health Care: Findings from the 2022 KFF Women’s Health Survey

Kaiser Family Foundation: Access and Coverage for Mental Health Care: Findings from the 2022 KFF Women’s Health Survey

A Kaiser Family Foundation brief found that women were more likely than men to report needing mental health services in the past two years, but 40 percent did not seek treatment and 10 percent were unable to get help despite trying. Sixty percent of women had a telemedicine/telehealth visit in the past two years. Mental health care was the third most common reason women cited for accessing telehealth/telemedicine services, with 17 percent saying it was the primary purpose of their most recent telemedicine visit. The majority report that the quality of their telehealth visit was the same as an in-person visit.

December 20th, 2022|

Alliance Applauds Inclusion of Major Telehealth Provisions in FY2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

The inclusion of a two-year extension of Medicare telehealth and commercial market telehealth flexibilities will make a huge difference to so many Americans. The Alliance for Connected Care has been calling for predictability for patients and clinicians while continuing to work toward permanent telehealth authorization. This gives us both.

The package includes a two-year extension of widely supported Medicare telehealth services that Congress enacted at the start of the pandemic. This extension will provide certainty to beneficiaries and health care providers, along with continued access to these critical virtual care services, while ensuring sufficient time is taken to analyze the impact of telehealth on patient care throughout the pandemic and beyond.  With the data currently pouring in, we are confident Congress will have the evidence needed to make telehealth permanent in Medicare two years from now.

The package also includes a two-year extension of the flexibility employers and health plans have to provide pre-deductible coverage of telehealth services for individuals and families with high deductible health plans coupled with a health savings accounts (HDHP-HSA). This policy is a game changer for the 32 million Americans who would otherwise have to think twice about out of pocket costs in accessing care.

Overall, a big win for America’s patients and caregivers. Bravo Congress.

Summary of Key Telehealth Provisions:

See here for bill text, press release, and Labor-HHS summary and explanatory statement. Below is a quick analysis of what was included in this package:

  • Sec. 4113: Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 (pg. 3714) – This section provides a two-year extension of the following Medicare telehealth flexibilities through December 31, 2024:
    • Removing Geographic Requirements and Expanding Originating Sites for Telehealth Services
    • Expanding Practitioners Eligible to Furnish Telehealth Services
    • Expanding Telehealth Services for Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics
    • Delaying the In-Person Requirements Under Medicare for Mental Health Services Furnished Through Telehealth and Telecommunications Technology
    • Allowing for the Furnishing of Audio-Only Telehealth Services
    • Use of Telehealth to Conduct Face-to-Face Encounter Prior to Recertification of Eligibility for Hospice Care During Emergency Period
    • Study on Telehealth and Medicare Program Integrity
  • Sec. 4151: Extension of Safe Harbor for Absence of Deductible For Telehealth (pg. 3805) – This section provides a two-year extension of the flexibility allowing employers/plans to provide coverage for telehealth services pre-deductible for individuals with a high-deductible health plan coupled with a health savings account (HDHP-HSA) through December 31, 2024.

For a full summary of telehealth and related provisions in the FY2023 Omnibus package, click here or see below:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [301.11 KB]

December 19th, 2022|

Federal Actions and Selected Non-Federal Practices to Facilitate Diversity of Patients

Government Accountability Office (GAO): Federal Actions and Selected Non-Federal Practices to Facilitate Diversity of Patients

The GAO released a report describing actions taken by federal agencies and non-federal cancer centers to facilitate enrollment of patients from diverse backgrounds in cancer clinical trials. The report found that the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Defense (DOD), and Veterans Affairs (VA) took actions that have the goal of increasing the proportion of patients from diverse backgrounds enrolled in federally funded cancer clinical trials. These efforts are focused on developing research collaborations, modifying research practices, reducing barriers to patient participation, and collecting and sharing data. VA expanded telehealth into clinical trials as a way to enable continued patients’ participation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [3.41 MB]

December 19th, 2022|
Go to Top