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Payers Push Congress to Expand Medicare Telemedicine

By HealthLeaders Media News  
   October 21, 2016

Eleven of the nation's largest commercial plans offer to share their data and experience on cost-savings and improved access to care with the Congressional Budget Office, as Congress crafts legislation to expand telemedicine within Medicare.

Commercial health insurance companies are offering to share their data on the value of telemedicine to federal actuaries who are estimating the cost of expanding remote coverage under Medicare.

"We view telemedicine as an important tool in increasing consumer access to high quality, affordable healthcare, improving patient satisfaction and reducing costs" 11 commercial payers said in a letter this week to Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall. "We believe our experience in the commercial market can inform estimates of the impact of policy changes in Medicare."

Telemedicine in Medicare is reimbursable only on under a narrow set of circumstances, but Congress is examining ways to expand it. Any legislation to expand Medicare telemedicine that comes with a price tag attached will require scoring by the CBO, which has limited experience in estimating the value and cost of telemedicine because of the federal government's limited exposure.

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Because of that, the commercial payers say their data could provide a clearer picture of the effects of telemedicine on access to care, health outcomes and budgetary impacts.

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