New Defense Health Bill Seeks to Add Telehealth Services and Providers & more Telehealth Buzz

New Defense Health Bill Seeks to Add Telehealth Services and Providers

  • Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced a bill in support of a letter urging the Defense Department to expand TRICARE telehealth coverage.
  • The letter called on TRICARE to cover the same amount of telemental health services for the military as civilians can receive under Medicare and private insurance.
  • The VA Mission Telehealth Clarification Act, originally introduced in the House in June 2019,  also tackles another issue facing the Defense Department: the shortage of available medical professionals.
  • If passed, post-graduate healthcare and VA trainees will be able to gain hands-on, real-time experience with connected healthcare platforms under the supervision of VA-sanctioned care providers.
  • Read the full story here.

Privacy and Security Still Imperative Despite Telehealth Waivers

  • Within the last couple of months, a variety of telehealth waivers have been issued to facilitate healthcare access during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • While some of these waivers forgo telehealth HIPAA penalties and promote increased data sharing, medical professionals are still expected to keep security and privacy at the forefront of all telehealth interactions.
  • The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a clarifying document on its discretionary enforcement of noncompliance with HIPAA telehealth regulations.
  • Providers must use non-public facing remote communication with end-to-end encryption.
  • Additionally, the enforcement discretion does not apply to insurance companies who cover telehealth services.
  • Providers also need to be aware of state-specific privacy and security requirements, which still apply despite OCR discretionary enforcement.
  • Lastly, medical providers must remember that these waivers only apply to the current public health emergency.
  • Read the deep dive, including needs for rapid telehealth deployments and preparing for the return to normal operations, here.

Bipartisan Call for Expanding Broadband in Next COVID Package

  • This week Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and a bipartisan group from the House and Senate released a letter requesting the addition of $2 billion for broadband expansion in the next COVID legislation.
  • The requested funding would allow the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to financially support non-rural and mobile health care providers, “eliminate administrative red tape slowing down the process of obtaining broadband connectivity, and provide more resources to help providers increase their broadband capacity.”
  • Other signatories include Senators Angus King (I-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and John Boozman (R-AR).
  • Read the full story here.

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