VA Telehealth

Posted: May 4, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Heretofore veterans have been required to pay a copayment to utilize in-home video telehealth sessions. Unless there are significant adverse comments on rules published in March, the Department of Veterans Affairs in May will eliminate co-payments for in-home video telehealth sessions. VA published a proposed rule on 6 MAR to waive co-payments with a 30-day comment period that has expired. “This would remove a barrier that may have previously discouraged veterans from choosing to use in-home video telehealth as a viable medical care option,” according to the rule. “In turn, VA hopes to make the home a preferred place of care, whenever medically appropriate and possible.” Also on 6 MAR, VA published a “direct final rule” that is substantially the same as the proposed rule. Under the direct final rule, elimination of the co-payment becomes effective on 7 MAY without further notice unless the agency received relevant adverse comments on the proposed rule. A direct final rule can accompany a proposed rule to speed the rulemaking process if an agency anticipates a rule will be con-controversial. If “significant” adverse comments are received, VA will publish in the Federal Register a notice of receipt of the comments and withdraw of the direct final rule. The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, an industry advocacy group, strongly supports the rules.
In-home video telehealth care is used to connect a veteran to a VA health care professional using real-time videoconferencing, and other equipment as necessary, as a means to replicate aspects of face-to-face assessment and care delivery that do not require the health care professional to make an examination requiring physical contact. Generally, VA calculated the amount of a copayment based on the complexity of care provided and the resources needed to provide that care. Telehealth helps ensure that veterans are able to get their care in a timely and convenient manner, by reducing burdens on the patient as well as appropriately reducing the utilization of VA resources without sacrificing the quality of care provided. The benefits of using this technology include increased access to specialist consultations, improved access to primary and ambulatory care, reduced waiting times, and decreased veteran travel. The proposed rule is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-06/html/2012-5355.htm and the direct final rule at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-06/html/2012-5354.htm. [Source: Health Data Management Joseph Goedert article 9 Apr 2012 ++]

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