CHA News Article

Report Examines Use of Telehealth in Medicare, Federal Programs

A report issued last week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) examines the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring in selected federal programs, including Medicare. Though telehealth and remote monitoring programs can provide valuable alternatives to in-person care, particularly for patients who cannot easily travel long distances, their use has been limited due to statutory and regulatory requirements for Medicare payment. In conversations with health care associations, GAO found that the potential to improve or maintain quality of care was the most frequently cited factor encouraging the use of telehealth in Medicare. The most often cited barriers included concerns over payment and coverage restrictions.

The report also outlines attempts by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to expand the use of such services, including by supporting eight models and demonstrations in which certain Medicare telehealth requirements have been waived. Additionally, GAO notes that the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring in Medicare may change as a way to achieve the goals of the new Merit-based Incentive Payment System, under which clinicians can use telehealth and, in some instances, remote patient monitoring, to help meet the payment program’s performance criteria.