Telemedicine Gives Newborns a Welcome to the World

A west Texas hospital has set up a telemedicine link to connect its smallest patients with immediate specialist care.

Shannon Medical Center, a 400-bed hospital based in San Angelo, which boasts a population of slightly less than 100,000, is partnering with Fort Worth-based Cook Children’s Medical Center to – in the words of its chief medical officer – bring in the “super specialists” to help treat newborns.

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Straight Talk LA: Medicaid is expanding in Louisiana! What does that mean?

Just one day after he was inaugurated as our new governor, John Bel Edwards signed an executive order to expand the Medicaid program in our state. There was rejoicing from some, grousing from others and questions from all.

So, now that my email box is full from people asking what this means for us all, I figure this is a great time to talk it over. Let’s start at the beginning: What is Medicaid and how does it work?

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Senators Introduce Bipartisan Telehealth Bill

A bipartisan group of six senators, led by Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), have introduced legislation, S. 2484, seeking to promote the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring services under the Medicare program.   

Their bill, the “CONNECT for Health Act,” would allow health plans to offer telehealth and remote patient monitoring services as a basic benefit under the Medicare Advantage program. The bill also would establish a demonstration program to support providers who furnish telehealth or remote patient monitoring services in a manner consistent with the goals of the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System that was established as part of the 2015 Medicare physician payment reform law.  Other provisions address the use of telehealth services in community health centers and rural health clinics and by participants in alternative payment models.  In addition, the bill would authorize Medicare fee-for-service coverage of remote patient monitoring services for certain individuals with multiple chronic conditions. 

AHIP has addressed a letter to the sponsors of the “CONNECT for Health Act,” expressing support for the bill and noting that health plans have embraced telehealth through the widespread use of nurse hotlines, remote monitoring services, electronic office visits, and other innovative ways of providing value to enrollees.  The following are links to legislative language and a summary of the bill.  

Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Peter Welch (D-VT) are planning to introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives.