With Congress offering a telemedicine exemption as part of the Omnibus Spending Bill at the end of 2022, delaying the “telemedicine cliff” by two years, HIMSS said it was ready to claim permanent reimbursement for virtual care. I’m here.

The policy agenda for the year ahead is to advocate for data standardization, inform interoperability rulemaking, and work with government agencies and states to increase access to telemedicine. We asked the HIMSS Government Relations team for their thoughts on priorities for 2023 and beyond.

Advocate for cost control in telemedicine

Telehealth has proven to reduce the burden on healthcare providers and improve access, and has long been a priority for HIMSS. But the Congressional Budget Office has long complained that all the data is for non-Medicare patients, he explained Tom Leary Sr. Vice.He is President and Head of Government Relations at HIMSS, the parent company of Healthcare IT News.

“How do we really know what the impact on the Medicare population and the Medicare Trust Fund will be? We now have three years of data on the impact on the Medicare Trust Fund,” said a budget leader. I asked.

The pandemic-era telemedicine waiver has answered many questions at the federal level, but the 2022 final legislative package for providing telemedicine in highly deductible health plans with medical savings accounts will be included. The annual extension is permanently changed.

HIMSS “will use the next two years to collect additional data and inform both Congress and the CBO on the cost of avoidance or cost control aspects,” Leary said.

Simplifying patient access, in addition to making telehealth coverage permanent, is a mission-driven non-profit organization whose goal is to reform the global healthcare ecosystem through the power of information and technology. Another goal.

HIMSS also actively supports the Connect for Health Act and the bill, which is due to be reintroduced this year, said Amanda Krzepicki, manager of government relations at HIMSS.

In 2023, HIMSS will only work to further enhance telemedicine with very strong data about how these services can help patients achieve broader reform. Instead, we plan to work with licensing boards at the state level to discuss how telemedicine can reach more patients.

HIMSS members communicate the long-term impact of multiple provider types and care settings related to reimbursement.

One example is how to set reimbursement rates based on voice calls and the care needed and adequacy of providing care through that channel.

Audio refunds can be helpful, especially in areas with poor internet connectivity.

According to a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, by July 2022, all state Medicaid programs were offering at least some audio-only coverage of behavioral health.

Most states’ Medicaid programs want to keep telemedicine expanding and have broad powers to do so without federal approval, according to the report.

Krzepicki said that while the bad guys in this space remain a concern, the data “doesn’t apply to the fact that costs have increased due to its use in the telemedicine space.”

“What’s really important for HIMSS is to at least make sure we’re using technology in ways that improve patient access to care,” added Leary.

Promoting the spread of broadband

HIMSS has worked with the Senate Broadband Caucus to continuously expand broadband.

“Broadband access is an issue that we continue to drive,” Leary said.

Billions of dollars have been spent on the Infrastructure Improvement Act, and HIMSS will work on last-mile connectivity with the Federal Communications Commission next year, he said.

The agency has launched more broadband expansion programs to increase connectivity to more communities, including the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program, which will announce grantees by March 10th.

This program encourages eligible state, local and tribal housing agencies, as well as non-profit and community-based organizations, for outreach activities to raise awareness of households receiving federal housing assistance and encourage participation in the ACP. etc. to provide funding.

The FCC also awards outreach grants to “reliable and neutral third parties, such as schools, school districts, and other local and state government agencies.”

“Registration for the ACP is free, but many people are reluctant,” Craig Settles wrote in Healthcare IT News in November, noting that telemedicine’s effectiveness hinges on meeting broadband needs. says there is.

Telehealth and broadband advocate Settles said, “Telehealth can beat the fencesitters. Due to the universal need for healthcare, combining ACP and telehealth can be a win-win for everyone.” There is potential,” he said.

Access to healthcare from home and access to clinics is as important as access to education, Leary reiterates.

He said previous legislation on broadband funding, such as the American Recovery and Recovery Act of 2009, defines what needs to be done to access funding.

What’s less clear this time around is how communities in need will access the funds.

“How do you leverage that in healthcare? How does healthcare get involved in those discussions?” Leary said.

Creating Standard Synergies for “Interoperability 3.0”

For several years, opinions have been divided over how to pay for health care providers, according to HIMSS government officials.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have issued proposed rulemaking to improve the electronic exchange of medical data and streamline the processes associated with pre-approval to further enhance interoperability.

HIMSS members are interested in information transfer standards common to most health and pharmacy data used in rulemaking.

“I think CMS is looking at the handwriting on the wall and really taking advantage of the fact that it’s part of the public debate,” said Leary.

Comments are due in early March. In that comment, Leary expected HIMSS to highlight its use of the latest information-sharing standard, HL7, the use case for integrated healthcare companies, and how it ties it to the standards of the National Council on Prescription Drug Programs. said that

“To create some kind of synergy, not to create something that would increase the burden on providers,” he said.

Another priority for members is for CMS to align with the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) and accredited health information networks.

“What should we check? [Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT] CMS doesn’t take us the other way when it comes to interoperability,” said Leary.

Fighting for a more seamless patient record

Part of the Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulation restricts sharing mental health records with health care providers, even if the patient provides access.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on December 2, calling for significant changes to better align substance use confidentiality regulations (42 CFR Part 2) with HIPAA . The deadline for submitting his comments is January 31st.

HIMSS is a founding member of the Patient ID Now Coalition and has long called for a national patient ID for patient safety, said Krzepicki, noting that lack of access to substance abuse records hinders treatment and leads to death. He also explained that it caused

The rule change could make it easier for providers to share patient records, resulting in cleaner data.

“No information is lost when you see a patient. Patients don’t have to sign a waiver that allows a particular doctor to see different information inputs from other providers,” she said. I was.

Andrea Fox is senior editor for Healthcare IT News.
Email: afox@himss.org

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

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