Perhaps no three words have been uttered more since the election of President Donald Trump, at least among those who follow health care, than “repeal and replace.” While no one appears to know yet just what a “replacement” for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would look like, and while many have expressed concerns about the impact that repealing President Obama’s landmark health care law would have on access to health care, at least some industry leaders see new opportunities amid the uncertainty—including a potential opening for expanded telehealth reimbursement. As Politico first reported, members of the newly formed Connected Health Initiative (CHI) are gearing up to make a push for telehealth and remote monitoring with Congress and newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
CHI describes itself as “a coalition of industry stakeholders and partners leading efforts to harness the power of technology to improve patient engagement and health outcomes.” Its 150 current members range from companies like AT&T and Qualcomm to trade groups like the American Medical Association and hospital systems like the University of Mississippi Medical Center; the group’s 2017 priorities include helping to disseminate key research findings on the potential of telehealth and remote monitoring to lower health care costs, commissioning their own studies on the topic, and working to strengthen industry privacy and security practices. On their agenda: Capitol Hill advocacy days, briefings, and technology demos.
Regardless of what lawmakers and the Trump Administration come up with in terms of ACA replacement, and when, CHI members are looking for a seat at the table. The group has already provided comments to CMS on Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) implementation; CHI, as the organization’s Eric Gagnier put it in a January blog post, feels that the agency has been “slow to incorporate advances in advanced health technology” into Medicare. An increased focus on telehealth, in CHI’s view, could go a long way toward strengthening and modernizing patient care.