Technology and Telehealth

Part of: 2020 Policy Priorities

Part of LeadingAge's 2020 Policy Priorities

LeadingAge Advocacy Goals

  • Eliminate barriers to realizing technology and telehealth benefits, including acquisition and training costs, inadequate standards, privacy concerns, and administrative barriers.
  • Promote the adoption of electronic health records, including funding and technical support.
  • Promote the use of interoperable health information exchange between LTSS/PAC providers and primary/acute care providers.
  • Ensure equitable internet connectivity for all aging services providers and older adults.
  • Support opportunities that allow skilled nursing facilities to test technologies that could be used to shift staffing ratios in nursing homes.
  • Identify the top five nursing home environmental deficiencies and common citations that could be addressed with technology solutions. 
  • Identify and address federal barriers to using technology to address social isolation.

The Issue

Health information technology (Health IT) is information technology and tools applied to health and health care. Health IT supports health information management across computerized systems (e.g., Electronic Health Records (EHRs)), the secure exchange of health information between consumers, providers, payers, and quality monitors. Health IT Tools encompass telemedicine, which is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve patients’ health status. Closely associated with telemedicine is the term “telehealth,” which is often used to encompass a broader definition of remote healthcare that does not always involve clinical services. Videoconferencing, transmission of still images, e-health including patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education and nursing call centers are all considered part of telemedicine and telehealth.

LTSS/PAC providers currently have insufficient resources and opportunities to enable the use of health IT technology, including telehealth in aging services through the Medicare program, and participation in health information exchange. The lack of equitable internet connectivity, which is key to health IT and for combating social isolation, should also be addressed.

 

Advocacy Action 2020

116th Congress

  • Medicare and Telehealth: We support the passage of The CONNECT for Health Act of 2019 (S. 2741 / H.R. 4932), which promotes increased access to care and reduced spending in Medicare through the expansion of telehealth services. The bill includes provisions that advance the LeadingAge CAST Telehealth recommendations that encourage the CMS Innovation Center to test telehealth models in Medicare and requires a MedPAC study on how different payers cover the home for telehealth services. It also allows for the use of telehealth in the recertification of a beneficiary for the hospice benefit.
  • Nursing Homes and Telehealth: We support legislation that allows all nursing homes to use telehealth models to improve care, such as by reducing unnecessary hospitalizations. An example of legislation that we have worked on in the 115th Congress is the RUSH Act, Reducing Unnecessary Senior Hospitalizations of 2018 (H.R. 6502).

Executive Branch

  • Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 Implementation: We monitor the CMS implementation of the Bipartisan of Budget Act of 2018, which allows Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to offer additional telehealth benefits not otherwise available in Original Medicare to enrollees starting in plan year 2020.
  • Telehealth Benefits in Medicare: We call on CMS to explore extending telehealth benefits into the broader Medicare population through demonstrations. We provide comments to CMS on how MA plans can cover additional telehealth benefits as a Medicare Part B service.
  • Eliminate Barriers to Implement EHR Interoperability: We explore opportunities to implement electronic health records interoperability and health information technology solutions that are aligned among LTSS providers.

Actons You Can Take Now

  • Visit the Advocacy Action Center to let your representative and senators know your views on eliminating barriers for the expansion of telehealth services in the Medicare program.
  • Host a Coffee Chat with Congress in your community to help your members of Congress understand how policies related to technology and not incorporating telehealth models in Medicare affect older adults.
  • Mobilize with the Advocacy Champions toolkit and let your representatives and senators know your views on technology and telehealth for older adults.