CCHP in the News

CCHP staff frequently contribute to articles on telehealth’s most pressing issues.

  • Telehealth: The Future of Senior Living

    iAdvance Senior Care

    My father-in-law, who has early onset dementia, recently fell three times over a six-week period. During one of the episodes, he was not found until 24 hours later. He was admitted to the hospital for a week because of a pressure injury he developed from being on the ground for so long. He now wears a telehealth device that provides him with 24/7 monitoring and uses a medication reminder system that alerts caregivers if he does not take his medications. In many ways, advancements in technology, particularly those made to products and services in the consumer marketplace, have shifted what our seniors expect from the world around them. Accessibility, ease of use and general enhancements to quality of life are among the most obvious expectations seniors have. However, technology has offered senior living residents and their families another expectation—independence. Yet, some forms of technology, like remote monitoring devices that track a residents’ locations and activities, can be perceived as invasive.  

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  • Telehealth, Telemedicine Guidelines Gain Momentum in Florida

    mHealth Intelligence

    One of the last states to formally establish a telehealth policy has been busy this month.  The Florida Telehealth Advisory Council, created by the state’s Legislature in March 2016, has put together a draft report that, among other things, defines “telehealth,” establishes payment and coverage conditions for payers and encourages asynchronous (store and forward) telehealth and remote patient monitoring under the state’s Medicaid program.  That report, unveiled at the council’s Sept. 19 meeting, follows by five days a bill filed by State Sen. Aaron Bean that would turn most of those recommendations into state law.  “It is imperative that the State of Florida moves forward in setting the framework for telehealth so that patients can begin utilizing this new technology,” Bean said in a press release issued on Sept. 20, one day after the advisory council’s meeting. “This bill is a good starting point and includes recommendations from the Telehealth Task Force that was established during the 2016 Legislative Session to review this important issue.”  The advisory council, which is due to issue recommendations to the state by Oct. 31, drafted its report after a series of 10 public meetings, presentations from some 30 state and national telehealth experts (including the American Telemedicine Association and Center for Connected Health Policy) and a statewide survey conducted late last year that showed strong support for telehealth and telemedicine.  

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  • Study: States’ Private Payer Laws Are Harming Telehealth Growth

    mHealth Intelligence

    Two-thirds of the states in the US may have laws to promote telehealth and telemedicine coverage by private payers, but many of those laws are weakly written, giving payers too much discretion to set their own ground rules and turning providers away from those services.  That’s the conclusion of a study by the Center for Connected Health Policy, commissioned by the Reforming States Group and supported by the Milbank Memorial Fund. It paints the picture of a disjointed and vague set of rules governing private payers that are doing more to impede telehealth than promote it.  “This study makes clear there is broad misconception that because private payer laws are in place in many states around the country, telehealth is achieving its promise of parity of benefits and payment with in-person care,” the 34-page report, written by policy advisor Mei Wa Kwong and program associates Christine Y. Calouro and Laura M. Nassen, says. “The reality is that lack of clarity and clauses that impede the expansion of telehealth-delivered services weaken many of these laws.”  

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  • Mario Gutierrez: Improving Access for All, "Giving Voice to the Voiceless"

    California Health Care Foundation

    Debra Johnson vividly recalls the day she met her future husband, Mario Gutierrez. She was a young physician interviewing for a position in an Indian health clinic in Mendocino County, and he was working for the California Rural Indian Health Board. It was 1982.  "I was invited to go to a community meeting, and there were several different tribes represented. The clinic was in trouble," she said. "Mario was the only person I knew, and he signaled me to sit next to him. The meeting was getting more rancorous, more heated. People were calling people out. I sincerely thought it was going to come to blows in the parking lot. He turned to me and said, 'I think I've had enough.' And he went to the podium and said the tribes were going to have to come together and see this as a common good, and that the government was trying to keep them apart so they would remain as an underclass. After 30 minutes, he had them setting up a new board of directors and making a mission statement. I was just astounded. He could talk to a room full of people and make everyone feel important — and steer the ship in the direction it was meant to go. I thought, 'This is a man I really need to get to know.'"  

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  • Telehealth Reimbursement Growing, but CCHP Argues Policies Need to Improve

    Healthcare Analytics News

    Earlier this week, it was reported that Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services had grown by 28% in 2016 over the previous year. The amount reached nearly $29 million nationwide across nearly 500,000 individual claims, a number which itself represents a 33% increase over the previous year. Telehealth advocates and providers have seen plenty of positives lately, between growth numbers like those, new companies entering the fray, expansion of telehealth coverage to more often include mental health, and passage of legislation throughout the country to ensure reimbursement. On that last point, however, there may still be work to do. The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) released a report last week through the Milbank Memorial Fund that highlighted the impacts and issues of such laws. Its major takeaway was that policy obstacles still hinder telehealth’s potential. 

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  • CCHP: Telehealth Policy Needs Clarity

    Becker's Hospital Review

    The language policymakers use in telehealth legislation may deter hospitals from offering remote services, according to a Center for Connected Health Policy report. CCHP evaluated the content and language used in state telehealth legislation to gauge how these laws impact provider adoption and payer reimbursement of telehealth services. The center determined laws lacking clear language on reimbursement offer private payers discretion to set their own reimbursement policies. Licensing issues and a lack of billing codes also hinder providers from adopting telehealth services. CCHP recommends policymakers consider explicit language in telehealth laws, with a focus on payment parity and inclusion in state Medicaid programs. "More careful crafting of the language for these laws and a more comprehensive implementation plan that includes the voice of payers, providers and consumers will be needed to achieve greater adoption of telehealth-delivered care in the future," the report reads. 

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  • More States Have Passed Telehealth Parity Laws, but Fine Print Holds Back Adoption

    Fierce Healthcare

    Over the last seven years, the number of states that have telehealth parity laws has increased threefold. However, nuances within the language of those laws have stymied telehealth adoption. Fueled by cheaper and more advanced technology, greater access to broadband and a spike in Americans with health insurance, 23 states and the District of Columbia have adopted telehealth parity laws since 2010, according to a report (PDF) from the Center for Connected Health Policy. Prior to 2010, just eight states had enacted such laws. However, broader support at the legislative level hasn’t necessarily increased adoption, in part because the language in many of those state laws is ambiguous and subject to interpretation. Amid that legislative leeway, payers have adopted disparate policies that prompt confusion among patients and providers. 

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  • Telehealth Loses a Champion

    Healthcare Informatics

    Sometimes when we speak or write about telehealth developments, we get caught up in the technical and policy details and lose sight of the larger picture — that telehealth is a means to enable broader access to quality care. But that focus was never lost on Mario Gutierrez, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP), who passed away last week at 68. With his passing, telehealth has lost a true champion. I did not know Gutierrez well, but I did have the chance to interview him and watch a few of his presentations, and it was clear he was both extremely knowledgeable on passionate about the topic.  Gutierrez had been with CCHP since May 2010, first as the senior policy associate and then executive director. Established in 2008 by the California Health Care Foundation, CCHP’s mission is to integrate telehealth technologies into the healthcare system through advancing sound policy based on objective research and informed practices. In 2012, its scope grew as it became the federally designated National Telehealth Policy Resource Center. In this capacity it serves as an independent center of excellence in telehealth policy providing technical assistance to 12 federally funded telehealth regional resource centers.

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  • Veteran Advocate Worked to Erase Health Care Disparities for Many

    The Sacramento Bee

    Health care advocate Mario Gutierrez, who worked tirelessly to end disparities in medical care for Native Americans, migrant workers, rural residents and many other people, died unexpectedly Wednesday at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento. He was 68. Dr. Debra Johnson, Gutierrez’s wife and a partner at the Plastic Surgery Center, said an autopsy is being done to determine cause of death. Gutierrez had undergone prostate cancer surgery on Aug. 1, she said, but he fell ill within days of returning to their Curtis Park home and had to go back to the hospital Aug. 16. Since 2011, Gutierrez has served as the executive director of the Sacramento-based Center for Connected Health Policy, where he and his team worked for greater integration of telehealth technology into California’s health care system. Gutierrez is also known for his work with migrants at the California Endowment, on AIDS projects at Sierra Health Foundation, and on behalf of Native Californians at the California Rural Indian Health Board. 

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  • What Telemedicine, Telehealth Resource Centers Offer to Providers

    mHealth Intelligence

    Healthcare providers, organizations and vendors interested in knowing more about telemedicine and telehealth have a ready resource at their fingertips: a network of telehealth resource centers covering every region of the country. Established in 2006, the Regional Telehealth Resource Center (RTRC) Program consists of 12 regional and two national telehealth resource centers. The centers are funded by three-year renewable grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT), which is part of the Office of Rural Health Policy. Together, they form what’s called the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers (NCTRC). 

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  • Using Telehealth to Put Patients at the Center of Healthcare

    RHI hub

    It seems like we aren’t making much progress but I think, when you look back over time, there have been incremental changes at the state and federal level. So, I think we are getting there. I’d like to break the challenges down into several areas, the first being federal policy. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services limits the definition of telehealth to only the use of live video, which is its most inefficient form. Rural elderly could benefit from being around their families in their own home and community if they are monitored remotely but instead, because that remote home monitoring is not reimbursed or allowed under Medicare, they have to move to an urban facility. It’s an issue that continues to be confounding. We also know that “store-and-forward” asynchronous telehealth consultation has been proven to be valuable as well as cost-efficient, yet is still not considered for reimbursement by Medicare. The other kicker is that a medical facility has to be located in a narrowly defined rural location designated by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy in order to receive coverage for telehealth services.  

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  • Pennsylvania Lawmaker Aims to Broaden Telehealth Access

    Healthcare Analytics News

    In a time of massive division about the future of healthcare in the United States, telehealth is one of the few agreeable items. The concept of leveraging new technology to make people healthier for lower costs is hard for lawmakers to deny, and nationwide more and more states are defining wider and wider sets of accepted services to ensure patients can utilize them.   This week, Pennsylvania State Senator Elder Vogel introduced one of the state’s most comprehensive telehealth laws to date. Most states have at least a bare minimum definition of telehealth or telemedicine on the books, in addition to often specific policies regarding telehealth concepts like remote monitoring or store and forward. The Center for Connected Health Policy, which tracks and advocates for increased legal recognition of the packages, shows an anemic record for Pennsylvania’s legislature as far as telehealth is concerned.

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  • Report: All But Two States Have Some Medicaid Telemedicine Reimbursement

    MobiHealth News

    The Center for Connected Health Policy has released the fifth edition of its State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies Report. CCHP uncovered many notable findings in the new report. Perhaps chief among those: 48 states and Washington, D.C., provide reimbursement for some form of live video in Medicaid fee-for-service.  Specifically, 13 states reimburse for store-and-forward delivered services in Medicaid; states that only provide reimbursement for teleradiology were not counted in this number. Twenty-two states reimburse in Medicaid for remote patient monitoring. The report also found that 31 states provide a transmission and/or facility fee. Six states have geographic/rural restrictions. And 23 states limit Medicaid reimbursement to a specific list of facilities. “While many states are beginning to expand telehealth reimbursement, others continue to restrict and place limitations on telehealth delivered services,” CCHP said in the report. “Although each state’s laws, regulations and Medicaid program policies differ significantly, certain trends are evident when examining the various policies.” 

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  • More States Reimburse for Telemedicine Under Medicaid Than You Think

    Healthcare IT News

    The Center for Connected Health Policy has released the fifth edition of its State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies Report. CCHP uncovered many notable findings in the new report. Perhaps chief among those: 48 states and Washington, D.C., provide reimbursement for some form of live video in Medicaid fee-for-service.  Specifically, 13 states reimburse for store-and-forward delivered services in Medicaid; states that only provide reimbursement for teleradiology were not counted in this number. Twenty two states reimburse in Medicaid for remote patient monitoring. The report also found that 31 states provide a transmission and/or facility fee. Six states have geographic/rural restrictions. And 23 states limit Medicaid reimbursement to a specific list of facilities. “While many states are beginning to expand telehealth reimbursement, others continue to restrict and place limitations on telehealth delivered services,” CCHP said in the report. “Although each state’s laws, regulations and Medicaid program policies differ significantly, certain trends are evident when examining the various policies.” 

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  • 48 States Provide Some Medicaid Reimbursement for Telehealth, says CCHP Report

    The Longevity Network

    This month, the Center for Connected Health Policy has released the fifth edition of its State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies Report. (An interactive map and search tool of the results is also available on their website). Chief among its findings: 48 states and Washington D.C. allow for some kind of Medicaid reimbursement for some form of live video fee-for-service. “While many states are beginning to expand telehealth reimbursement, others continue to restrict and place limitations on telehealth delivered services,” CCHP said in the report. “Although each state’s laws, regulations and Medicaid program policies differ significantly, certain trends are evident when examining the various policies.”

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