Earlier this month, the Advocacy Council and College sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell requesting their assistance to change or modify policies that would facilitate the continued expansion and availability of telehealth to all Americans. A copy of this letter was also shared with every Representative and Senator.
We have had a great response to our message. At the time of this writing, we have had 157 opens, which means the primary recipient opened the original message. In addition, the letter has been shared 566 times! This 26% open rate is quite good, but the high number of shares from recipients to others in their office or Committee staff members is very good news.
Several Congressional offices have asked the College to review draft telehealth legislation they are working on, in hopes of gaining an official endorsement of their efforts from the Advocacy Council. We will review these requests and consider offering our support to the legislation most beneficial to allergists and your patients.
The Advocacy Council has heard from members that telehealth has been good for their practices, and they’d like to continue providing the service even after the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) has ended. Many of the telehealth policy changes that have been adopted by the federal government are only effective during the PHE. Once the PHE is lifted, so too are the flexibilities that have made telehealth so valuable to members and their patients.
Specifically, the College’s letter asked that the following policies be maintained through legislation:
- Repeal the statutory limitation that telehealth visits must originate from a rural area.
- Repeal the statutory requirement that the patient present at an “originating” site as a condition for payment for a telehealth visit.
- Statutorily authorize the ability to use non-HIPAA compliant audio/video communication tools for telehealth visits.
- Direct CMS to maintain the expanded list of services that can be provided via telehealth.
- Modify the Anti-Kickback (Stark law) statute to authorize voluntary waivers of Medicare co-pay or deductible for telehealth services.
- Mandate payment parity for all providers between Medicare payments for telehealth visits and in-person visits – for the same services.
- Authorize the use of audio only (i.e. traditional phone) for conducting telehealth visits.
- Authorize Medicare payments for telehealth visits provided to out-of-state Medicare beneficiaries in states that allow Medicare-recognized telehealth providers to practice in the state in which the patient is located.
- Urge CMS to allow a physician to engage in a telehealth visit with established and new patients.
The Advocacy Council – we have you covered.