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Telemedicine/telehealth Stakeholders Gear up for Fall Momentum

Which telemedicine bills are likely to gain traction this fall is the ubiquitous question among lobbyists and telehealth advocate groups such as the Integrative Telehealth Alliance and the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium.

Telemedicine/telehealth is a niche issue in the healthcare politico arena that is garnering enthusiasm by lobbying groups such as the recently formed Alliance for Connected Care. The leadership here are veterans of the industry, Former Majority Leaders Tom Daschle, Trent Lott and former Senior Sen. John Breaux, whose aim is to enable more telehealth to support new models of care.

POLITICO’s Morning eHealth (9/9/14) quotes Krista Drobac, Exec. Dir. of the Alliance for Connected Care, with a positive forecast relative to one payment model. “We think it’s absolutely possible and likely that we build the evidence and the coalition to completely transform the way telemedicine is looked at by Medicare.”

Players on the field are Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Ca.), Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Sens.Thad Cochran (R-Miss) and Richard Wicker (R-Miss) whose bills titled the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014 puts telehealth services under Medicare on the path toward parity with in-person health care visits. This is huge for the Boomer population whose age-related chronic complex diseases present a deterrent to making doctor office visits. Add in the folks with mobility issues, geographic location issues and care-giver compliance issues and we can see that telehealthcare is a reality that must be enacted and enabled.

Sen. Thompson waxes enthusiastic in his press release July 31, 2014: ” Telehealth saves money and helps save lives. By expanding telehealth services, we can make sure the best care and the best treatments are available to all Americans, no matter where they live.”

Sen. Harper added: “Telehealth is one of the most promising aspects of the healthcare field.”

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt), visionary player, according to his press conference on 9/814, “unveiled bipartisan legislation to build upon the progress of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s) in shifting the reimbursement of healthcare providers away from the traditional ” fee for service” model to a focus on improving the health outcomes of patients”. Outstanding concept and music to the ears of long time veterans of integrative healthcare!

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tn) will join Rep. Welch this week to introduce The ACO Improvement Act of 2014. This bill will further improve the incentivizing of health outcomes, increase collaboration between patients (people) and doctors (providers).

Bravo/brava! A notion whose time has come. Validating the relationship between a person and their provider of choice is, indeed, a key to success in health outcomes. Empowering a person to choice and access to care with the provider of their choice will stimulate the collaboration necessary for team effort. Positive outcomes are the result of positively resonant relationships.

And it is all about relationships, folks! So, if you positively resonate with the ideas and action plans of these legislators, let them know! Send a letter of support, follow their lead and get on board. The train is leaving the station!

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