In an issue paper
sent earlier this week, WHA asked Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation to expand access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries by eliminating a federal statute that prohibits Medicare from paying for telehealth services if the patient is located in an urban area or at home.
As stated in the letter, telehealth creates opportunities for more timely and local care for patients and can also reduce travel time and burden for physicians serving patients in multiple communities. Further, studies show that by reducing avoidable health care utilization, including expensive emergency room visits and hospital admissions, telehealth can help to reduce health care costs.
Eliminating the statutory prohibition on Medicare paying for telehealth services delivered to patients located in urban areas or at home would be consistent with recent efforts of both Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand Medicare access to telehealth services, as explained in the letter.
The letter was drafted based on input provided by WHA members at meetings of WHA’s Telemedicine Work Group. The Work Group has been assisting and will continue to assist WHA in developing its telehealth advocacy agenda, which is broadly aimed at expanding access to telehealth services by facilitating sustainable telehealth reimbursement within Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurance, and by removing regulatory barriers that unnecessarily impede the delivery of health care services via telehealth.
For more information, contact Andrew Brenton, WHA Assistant General Counsel, at 608-274-1820.