Sunday, January 29, 2012

State Legislative Issues

The Commonwealth of Virginia spends $42.3 billion each year on their Medicaid program and this amount is expected to increase with the implementation of federal health care reform and spending requirements. Therefore, the state is looking at using telemedicine to help reduce Medicaid costs.

House Joint Resolution No. 171 introduced by State Delegate Daniel W. Marshall III (R-VA) on January 11, 2012 would establish a joint subcommittee to study how telemedicine could play a role in reducing Medicaid costs.

The joint subcommittee with a total membership of 15 members, would examine the current use of telemedicine in the Commonwealth and in other states, research methods that could be used to reduce Medicaid costs using telemedicine, and consider other new technological advances used in other states to help solve the problem.

In New York State, a roundtable discussion was held on January 9th with the Legislative commission on rural resources. The hearing was held to identify what state legislators and policymakers can do to eliminate the remaining barriers to using telemedicine.

At the roundtable, the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) and other stakeholders identified issues related to telemedicine that need to be addressed:

• Encourage all private payers to recognize telemedicine and telehealth services including new models of care emerging at the state and federal levels

• Expand Medicaid support for telemedicine to include service provided from licensed providers and private physician offices, especially with the critical need for child and adolescent psychiatry needed in many areas of the state

• Expand Medicaid support for consultations provided to nursing home residents

• Identify and address areas of the state that still lack broadband access

• Allow for peer review responsibilities when a hospital is contracting with another entity for specialty telemedicine consultations since the receiving hospital may not have the specialists on staff to appropriately conduct quality assurance activities that are part of the credentialing and privileging process

Participants in the roundtable also identified barriers at the federal level that included discussion on Medicare support for telemedicine. For example, there is limited payment for services to patients located in designated rural Health Professional Shortage Areas.