ATA aims to boost telemedicine use for neonatal care

By Bernie Monegain
10:53 AM

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has developed a legislative proposal to expand the use of telemedicine for Medicaid enrollees with high-risk pregnancies and neonatal care needs. The ATA says it could save Medicare $186 million over the next 10 years.

Commissioned by ATA to appraise the proposal using Congressional Budget Office style cost estimating, Avalere Health detemined the potential savings.

"This is a win-win for both patients and Federal taxpayers," said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the ATA. "We urge Congressional leaders to quickly adopt this proposal and realize these savings."

The proposal would provide Medicaid coverage of telemedicine for maternal-fetal and neonatal care via a comprehensive care "birthing network."  These networks could leverage telemedicine technologies to more effectively treat major conditions associated with high-risk pregnancies, including pre-term labor, gestational hyptertension, mild preeclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus. 

The Department of Health and Human Services would ensure the quality of care through performance reporting.

Linkous says the plan builds on the successful experience of the University of Arkansas ANGELS Program, which has cost-effectively managed a birthing network in that state for nearly 10 years. It is also grounded in findings from the Institute of Medicine

The proposal uses a shared savings approach to encourage provider adoption, as well as a 90 percent contribution from the federal government in the first two years to encourage state adoption.

The complete Avalere memorandum on ATA's proposal is available at http://www.americantelemed.org/MedicaidProposal.

The American Telemedicine Association is the leading international resource and advocate promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies. ATA and its diverse membership work to fully integrate telemedicine into healthcare systems to improve quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world. Established in 1993, ATA is headquartered in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.americantelemed.org.