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ATA Calls on CMS to Waive Medicare Telemedicine Statute

April 25, 2011

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to use its authority to waive the restriction-riddled Medicare telemedicine statute for the new Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

“Given the ACO’s financial limits and incentives, hindering them with Medicare’s outdated restrictions on telemedicine will block the goal of efficiently delivering the care beneficiaries need and want.”

“ATA supports the vision of Accountable Care Organizations, but without providing them access to telemedicine, their promise will not be realized,” said ATA’s Chief Executive Officer, Jonathan Linkous. “Given the ACO’s financial limits and incentives, hindering them with Medicare’s outdated restrictions on telemedicine will block the goal of efficiently delivering the care beneficiaries need and want.”

Since CMS has the power to waive Medicare statutory provisions “as may be necessary to carry out” the ACO provisions, in formal comments to CMS today ATA proposed five specific changes for the final rules to allow:

1. Medical videoconferencing for the 35 million beneficiaries who live in metropolitan areas
2. Store-and-forward of medical images for the 43 million beneficiaries who don’t live in Alaska or Hawaii
3. Physicians to judge the appropriate ACO use of telemedicine for otherwise covered services
4. Home-based medical videoconferencing
5. Otherwise covered therapy services to be delivered via telehealth

ATA’s full comments are available at http://www.americantelemed.org/ACOComments.

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