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Telehealth lobbying group to fight barriers to tech-driven care


By Paul Demko
Posted: February 12, 2014 - 1:30 pm ET
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A new lobbying organization will seek to eliminate legal and regulatory barriers to telemedicine and other technology-driven approaches to delivering medical care.

The Alliance for Connected Care includes pharmacy chains CVS Caremark Corp. and Walgreen Co., insurance firm WellPoint and medical technology companies Teladoc and HealthSpot.

The group has already signed up some high-powered lobbying support: former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) were on hand for the kickoff event Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington. “The time has come for us to pave the way for telehealth,” Lott said.

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The coalition is not endorsing any specific proposals at this point. It expects to be active in seeking legislative and regulatory changes at the state and federal levels.

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), chief sponsor of the “Telehealth Enhancement Act of 2013,” also spoke at the event. That legislation would authorize remote patient monitoring services to be included in the package of benefits covered by Medicare Advantage plans. The bill was introduced in October and has bipartisan sponsorship, but has yet to receive a hearing.

Earlier this month, the Ohio Legislature passed legislation requiring the state's Medicaid program to pay providers for telehealth services. Eleven other states have enacted similar bills, according to the American Telemedicine Association.

Jason Gorevic, CEO of Teladoc, a company that provides individuals with medical consultations via phone and video, pointed to a recent issue of Health Affairs devoted to telehealth as evidence of the importance of the issue and the need for effective lobbying.

“I think there's a real risk of over-regulation,” Gorevic said. “Doctors have been delivering telehealth since the phone was invented.”

Follow Paul Demko on Twitter: @MHpdemko


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