By Jamie Mulraney, Megan Molnar, & Heidi Dennison
Connect with your Future by Advocating for Telehealth Services
It is an exciting time to be a student studying speech-language pathology. As a profession, we are able to better serve clients than in the past due to the expansion of technology. Because of tele-health services, speech-language pathologists can provide services to clients who might not otherwise have access to them.
What is the issue? Why is it important?
Currently, professionals cannot receive reimbursement for tele-health services through Medicare. Because of this, those who rely on Medicare to cover the cost of their medical expenses may not be able to have their speech, language, and/or swallowing needs met.
There are two bills under debate in Congress regarding tele-therapy, The “CONNECT for Health Act of 2017” and “Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2017.” Both bills are very similar with a few minor differences. The “CONNECT for Health Act of 2017” will create new sites for tele-health care, develop a Medicare Remote Patient Monitoring benefit for certain patients (high-risk, high-cost), remove limitations on the use of tele-health, as well provider restrictions in Accountable Care Organizations and Medicare Advantage. This bill also aims to make it a priority for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to assess the appropriateness of tele-health in projects before the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). Finally, once restrictions are lifted, a study will be conducted to analyze the effectiveness of tele-health services.
Also according to ASHA’s website, the “Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2017” will phase in the expansion of tele-health services in several notable ways.:The bill aims to increase the number of qualified providers, ultimately increasing the number of services available to the public. These professionals include: , audiologists, speech/language pathologists, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. Another goal of the bill is to eliminate geographical impediments that are currently in place under current law, and permit the facilitation of tele-health services in rural, underserved, and metro areas. This would increase accessibility to tele-stroke services regardless of geographical location, enabling remote patient monitoring (RPM) for clients with chronic conditions such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes. Finally, the bill will allow for the home of the client to be the site for which care is provided whether it be home dialysis, hospice care, eligible outpatient mental health services and home health services.
How can you help?
2. Spread the word! Tell your friends/family etc. why this issue is important for society