‘Unless there’s reimbursement our members won’t invest in it’
WASHINGTON – While the Medical Group Management Association welcomes proposed changes by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that improve coverage for some digital health services, the group thinks the changes may also prevent providers from offering other such services.
In the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule released in July, CMS proposed: reimbursement for virtual check-ins; a new code to describe the remote evaluation of patient-transmitted information conducted through store-and-forward video technology; and a new code for Internet consultation between professionals for the benefit of treating a patient.
But in a recent letter to CMS Administrator Seema Vera, MGMA said that the proposed changes could inadvertently prevent the adoption of telehealth by some providers because of the narrowly defined types of physician services that fall under the definition of telehealth within the meaning of Section 1834(m) of the Social Security Act, which imposes reimbursement limitations on telehealth coverage.
“What we want is an expansion of covered services,” said Rob Tennant, the health IT policy director of MGMA, a nonprofit association for professionals who lead medical practices. “Our members are both interested in telehealth and aggressively moving in that direction, but unless there’s reimbursement, they won’t invest in it.”
Tennant said that CMS must keep up with advances in technology and recognize that health care today needs to reach people where they are.
“There needs to be a broader policy change,” he said. “We assert that telehealth will decrease the cost of health care, and it’s only a matter of time before it is established as an integral part of a provider’s service.”
Tennant said that as people age they are more in tune with technology and will expect their health care provider to offer telehealth services.
“We’re on the cusp of real change in health care,” he said. “Practices will have to keep pace with this if they want to stay current and relevant.”