Task force debates scope of telehealth
Gov. Bruce Rauner could accomplish several of the recommendations from a state task force on telehealth by signing a bill passed this session by the General Assembly, several members of the group said during a meeting Wednesday.
Senate Bill 3049 paves the way for all Medicaid-eligible facilities, including inpatient hospital settings, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, to bill for telehealth services. Licensed psychologists, social workers and advanced practice registered nurses certified in psychiatric and mental health nursing could also receive Medicaid payments for delivering behavioral health services via telehealth, under the bill.
“I would recommend that he sign that bill,” said Angela Grover, system director of advocacy for Presence Health.
Task force members also debated how broad to make their recommendations.
“If we are going down the path of saying that all Medicaid eligible services can be provided by all Medicaid eligible providers, does that have budget implications that the state and department are prepared to make?” asked Howard Peters, co-chair of the task force.
“I know, and I have seen, that the longitudinal cost savings over time will be there to offset any initial rise in cost,” responded Nina Antoniotti, executive director of telehealth and clinical outreach for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
Peters, a former administrator for the state, said longitudinal savings don’t help with annual budgets.
The Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Dr. Arvind Goyal, who’s medical director for the Medicaid program, suggested starting with more limited pilots.
Grover pushed back against that idea.
“I want the state to be fiscally responsible,” she said. “But there is data that says telehealth is going to create access and make people healthier. If we do a pilot, we are choosing to limit who actually gets those services.”
A spokeswoman for Rauner said is he still reviewing legislation.
In an interview after the meeting, Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, who is co-chairing the task force, promoted the potential of telemedicine.
“The question is getting people to see it and believe it,” she said. “The savings are real.”
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