Sunday, May 31, 2009

New Legislation Introduced

Representative Harry Teague from New Mexico introduced legislation on May 19th to direct the VA to establish three pilot projects that would use telehealth platforms to help treat veterans living in rural areas who suffer from PTSD or TBI. The goals for the “Reaching Rural Veterans through Telehealth Act (HR 2505)” would provide education to help primary care providers diagnose and better manage their clients on a 24/7 basis. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Participants could include medical clinicians, trainers, educators, researchers, community members and others. Grants provided in the bill would be awarded based on geographical diversity, ability to reach the most veterans that are not currently receiving treatment, and would create programs for rural Veterans Integrated Service Networks. Funds may be used for training, research, to purchase equipment, and for partnering and contracting with local community groups already providing services in a rural area.

On May 20th, Representative Peter Welch from Vermont introduced the “Blueprint for Health Act of 2009 (HR 2535)” to establish a blueprint to help create a comprehensive system of care. The plan would integrate coordinated chronic care management to include medical practices acting as medical homes with community care teams to provide the care and coordination needed.

Chronic care management programs would identify and enroll chronically ill patients and also encourage primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, and others to participate in the program. In addition, the legislation calls for methods to increase communication among healthcare professionals and patients.

Financial incentives included in the legislation would include increased payments to medical practices based on a per member per month fee, payment for care support services to include community care teams, and the support of community-based savings sharing and reinvestment models referred to as an accountable care organizations. The plan could include grant opportunities and Federal tax credits for localities to use to conduct community assessments, interventions, and to develop activation plans.