Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bills filed to boost telemedicine, help opioid addicts

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced five bills to increase access to telemedicine treatment for patients with substance-abuse disorders; the proposed bills will likely be included in a larger legislative package by the Senate Finance Committee. "The new bills look at everything from breaking down geographical restrictions of telemedicine to setting best practice for treating kids with substance abuse disorder through telemedicine," Laura Lovett reports for MobiHealthNews. Telemedicine is a boon to rural areas, which generally lack the resources urban areas have in treating substance abuse problems. 

The five bills include a proposal that Medicaid eliminate originating-site geographic restrictions for telemedicine. Another calls on the comptroller general to evaluate access to telemedicine and remote monitoring services to treat pediatric Medicaid patients with substance-abuse disorders. And another bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to advise states on federal reimbursement for substance-abuse treatment under Medicaid using telemedicine, Lovett reports.

"In addition to the telehealth-focused bills, the legislation package is expected to include . . . a change to the Social Security Act so that a screening for potential substance use disorders and a review of current opioid prescriptions would be part of the initial preventive physical exam and annual wellness visit in the Medicare program," Lovett reports. It will also include a proposal that "the HHS secretary provide guidance to states about Medicaid items and services for non-opioid pain treatment and management."

The Senate Finance Committee met for a 9 a.m. hearing today to discuss hospital closings, Medicare payment programs and other challenges facing rural providers, reports Politico. More on that tomorrow.

No comments: