Groups Praise Proposed Health IT Changes in Physician Fee Schedule

September 4, 2014 in News

Several groups have submitted comments praising the health IT changes included in CMS’ proposed rule outlining its Physician Fee Schedule for calendar year 2015, with some organizations pushing agency to go even further in expanding coverage of health IT-based services (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 9/3).

Background

In July, CMS released a proposed rule outlining its Physician Fee Schedule for calendar year 2015, which includes several health IT initiatives.

Among other things, the 608-page proposed rule includes changes to:

  • Covered telehealth services;
  • Electronic health record requirements for certain providers;
  • CMS’ Physician Compare Website; and
  • The Physician Quality Reporting System (iHealthBeat, 7/7).

American Hospital Association Comments

Last week, the American Hospital Association submitted comments to CMS in which it praised the proposal’s inclusion of new codes for Medicare telehealth services and encouraged the agency to consider expanding its covered services in the future (AHA News, 9/2).

Linda Fishman, senior vice president of public policy analysis and development at AHA, said “We believe more services could be effectively and efficiently furnished using telehealth, and we encourage the agency to consider adding other services on its own initiative in future rulemaking.”

American Medical Association Letter Details

In a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, American Medical Association CEO James Madara wrote that while AMA supports the expanded coverage, it also “urges” the consideration of other factors for telemedicine services.

Specifically, he noted that “AMA urges CMS to prioritize coverage of telemedicine services that include care coordination with the patient’s medical home and/or existing treating physicians.” He added, “This includes at a minimum identifying the patient’s existing medical home and treating physician and providing to the latter a copy of the medical record.”

American Telemedicine Association Letter Details

In a letter to CMS, American Telemedicine Association CEO Jonathan Linkous said his organization “strongly supports” the recommendations. Specifically, he wrote that ATA “appreciates CMS making explicit that two CPT codes for computer-based psychological testing are payable in the same way as other physicians’ services, and not as telehealth services with accompanying severe restrictions.”

CHIME/ Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems Letter Details

In a joint letter, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives President and CEO Russell Branzell and Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems CEO Richard Rydell also praised CMS’ proposals, while urging the agency to expand its definition of telehealth.

They wrote, “Namely, we believe CMS should reconsider its definition of originating site, both the geographic boundaries and the eligibility process.” They added, “[T]he current definition still limits access to telemedicine services for patients, who may be unable to commute for various reasons, in urban areas” (FierceHealthIT, 9/3).

Telecommunications Industry Association Comments

In comments submitted to CMS, the Telecommunications Industry Association applauded the steps CMS has taken to expand telehealth services, while urging the agency to take additional action in regards to chronic care management.

Specifically, TIA called on CMS to:

  • Clearly communicate standards for the mandatory use of electronic health IT in providing chronic care management;
  • Create an additional separate code for incorporating electronic remote monitoring for chronic care management; and
  • Include remote patient monitoring in the recently proposed Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System Code (TIA comments, 9/2).
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