ATA teams up with minority caucuses

Aims to remove policy barriers to telehealth, mHealth

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) is working with three minority legislative caucuses to educate lawmakers and introduce model legislation for telehealth and mobile health in statehouses around the country.

The ATA has formed partnerships with the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL), the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) with the goal of maximizing state-government support of telemedicine. All three organizations have recently passed resolutions calling for the removal of artificial policy barriers and greater adoption of telehealth services.

[See also: ATA urges removal of 'outdated' restrictions on telemedicine.]

“This collaboration builds on the great work already being done to advance telemedicine in forward-thinking state legislatures,” said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the ATA. “States are often the true innovators in developing policies, regulations and payment mechanisms in support of telemedicine. We’re using the outcomes evidence and lessons learned from these cases to show all state governments how telemedicine can improve the quality of healthcare, increase access, and reduce costs.”

NOBEL, NBCSL and NHCSL are natural allies for ATA, both for their focus on state policy and as representatives for minority populations, Linkous noted, as telemedicine is proven to have a significant positive impact on historically underserved groups.

“Remote healthcare services can alleviate chronic healthcare shortages that exist in both urban centers and rural areas,” he said.

[See also: ATA takes FCC to task for delays in rural telehealth programs.]

The ATA and its members have been instrumental in steering state policies to better deploy telemedicine. To date, 16 state legislatures have mandated payer reimbursement of telemedicine services. Almost every state now includes some telehealth in their Medicaid programs and many states are expanding their services to cut Medicare service costs. The ATA has also worked to eliminate burdensome regulatory issues that exist, or have been proposed, in many states.

In October 2012, the ATA received a grant from the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a part of the Department of Health and Human Services, to research state telehealth policies and promote state-level best practices.