N. Chelmsford, MA (PRWEB) January 26, 2009
As telemedicine acceptance continues to advance, regulations pertaining to hospital and physician reimbursement are expanding as well.
Medicare is a health insurance program run by the Federal Government for America's senior citizens. It is the largest health care payer in the United States. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) mandated that Medicare reimburse telemedicine consultations and fund telemedicine demonstration projects across the United States.
At this time, Medicare reimburses for telehealth if the services are performed in one of the following originating sites: the office of a physician or practitioner, a critical access hospital, a rural health clinic, or a federally qualified health center or hospital.
On June 6th, 2008, the Senate Finance committee released comprehensive Medicare legislation that includes a provision expanding telehealth originating sites to include the following;
- Hospital-based renal dialysis centers, which will allow patients receiving dialysis to receive other medical consultations via telemedicine at the same time.
- Skilled nursing facilities allowing many nursing homes to now host telemedicine systems and earn their investment back by qualifying for an "originating site fee" per consultation.
- In-patient follow-up visits which will allow outside specialists (other than the admitting doctor) to consult with inpatients who are already in the hospital.
- Community Mental Health Centers
As of January 1, 2009, a remote physician consulting with a patient using telehealth technology, located in any of the facilities mentioned above, can receive reimbursement from Medicare for those services. The originating sites of those consultations, namely the facilities that purchase telemedicine equipment will also receive an "originating site fee" per consultation. With this change brings great incentive to physicians, practitioners and health care facilities to participate in using telehealth technology to consult with skilled nursing home patients.
More good news for clinicians! Medicare also provides a 5% bonus payment, above the regular consultation fee, for any physician or practitioner who uses telemedicine to consult with patients who reside in a federally designed Physician Shortage Area (PSA). The physician or practitioner does not have to be located in the PSA area, only the patient or participating originating site.
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