Tech Groups Push for Telehealth Provisions in Health Reform Bill

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Technology firms are urging the Senate Finance Committee to incorporate new payment methods that could increase adoption of telemedicine into health reform legislation, CongressDaily reports.

In the committee's policy options document released earlier this summer, some lawmakers offered a proposal to test Medicare payment methods that promote patient-centered care coordination for high-cost, chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries.

Alice Borrelli, an Intel lobbyist, said the document did not mention technology or virtual care. However, technology firms -- such as Intel, Cisco Systems, IBM and the trade group Tech America -- are urging lawmakers to expand the language to include in-home and virtual consultations.

Intel Digital Health Group Innovation and Policy Director Eric Dishman said aides to Senate Finance Committee members were receptive to the technology industry's proposals even if only incremental changes are likely.

Promising Proposals

Technology firms said they see hope in a proposal by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to create a three-year pilot program in 26 states to provide in-home primary care services to Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. The measure could be included in the final Senate Finance Committee bill.

Meanwhile, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, plans to introduce companion legislation as an amendment when the House moves forward with its health reform package (Noyes, CongressDaily, 7/28).


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