Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NHCSL to Increase Telehealth

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) recently approved a resolution to educate federal and state policy makers on how to create a workable framework for telehealth programs. These programs within the Medicare program can benefit the elderly and communities of color.

Over 50 million Americans lack access to primary care services due to doctor and provider shortages at local practices, community health centers, and hospitals in extremely rural areas. Patients are forced to travel distances of over an hour to receive treatment from their healthcare providers and in some cases are frequently treated by different doctors. Lack of proper treatment or doctors unfamiliar with the latest medical data can potentially lead to further health risks.

Joel White, Executive Director of the Health IT Now, a coalition of more than 60 patient, provider, employer, and payer organizations at, applauds NHCSL in their efforts to provide the more than 50 million Americans lacking access to primary care services with the quality healthcare they need and deserve.

He notes, “As technological capabilities continue to dramatically evolve, the healthcare sector has yet to fully reap the rewards that telemedicine offers. This resolution is a positive step in ensuring that Hispanic and elderly communities are able to communicate more efficiently and effectively with their doctors, no matter where they are.”

In researching Hispanic issues, CMS in their Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation issued a funding announcement last June detailing information on their Hispanic Health Services Research Grant Program.

Researchers receiving grants will conduct small applied research projects and are expected to become involved in the design, implementation, and operation of research projects that address healthcare issues such as financing, delivery, access, quality, and barriers affecting Hispanics.

CMS is seeking these research projects because of the need to find solutions to the many difficult health issues that have a significant impact on the health of Hispanics. One of the goals for the funding is to foster a network for communication and collaboration regarding Hispanic healthcare issues.

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