Government Advocacy

May 10, 2017: CONNECT for Health Act letter

Advocacy Letter

Medicare Payment Policies

Health Information Technology

May 10, 2017
 
The Honorable Brian Schatz
722 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Roger Wicker
555 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Thad Cochran
113 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Benjamin Cardin
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable John Thune
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Mark Warner
475 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510


Dear Senators Schatz, Wicker, Cochran, Cardin, Thune and Warner:

On behalf of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), I commend you for introducing the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act. We support this important legislation that expands coverage for telehealth services by lifting several Medicare’s restrictive coverage requirements for these convenient and flexible services.

Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) is the premier association for professionals who lead medical practices. Since 1926, through data, advocacy and education, MGMA empowers medical group practices to create meaningful change in healthcare. With a membership of more than 40,000 medical practice administrators, executives, and leaders, MGMA represents 18,000 organizations of all sizes, types, structures, and specialties that deliver almost half of the healthcare in the United States.

Telehealth technologies have the potential to be a cost-effective and quality-focused method for delivering medical services to millions of Medicare beneficiaries, yet they are greatly inhibited by Medicare’s coverage requirements, including originating site restrictions, geographic limitations, and limitations on covered codes. By waiving these restrictions for certain providers who are preparing for the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or participating in a qualifying alternative payment model (APM), permitting remote patient monitoring for certain patients with chronic conditions, and adding telehealth as a basic Medicare Advantage service, the CONNECT for Health Act would advance telemedicine’s goals of improving patient access and quality, and reducing costs.

Telehealth services will play a growing role in coordinating care for patients with complex needs and allowing timely exchange of important health information as practices continue to focus on bettering their clinical practice improvement activities and prepare to assume financial risk under the framework of APMs established in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. By reducing barriers to telehealth coverage, the Act would allow physician practices to leverage innovative technology to increase access for Medicare beneficiaries. The challenge that practices will face with APMs is finding innovative ways to deliver care at a lower cost. Telehealth is a prime way to do this. We appreciate your support for the nation’s medical groups and urge the committees to favorably review the CONNECT for Health Act and send it to the floor for a vote.

Your leadership on this important issue is greatly appreciated and we look forward to working together to expand coverage for telemedicine services. Should you have any questions, please contact Anders Gilberg at agilberg@mgma.org or 202.293.3450.

Sincerely,
Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, MMM, FAAP, CMPE
President and CEO

MGMA members may access our expert staff to answer your questions about federal health policy issues.

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