$14M Medicare telehealth reimbursements only the tip of $615B iceberg

Critics believe Medicare telehealth reimbursements — which totaled nearly $14 million in 2014 — do not begin to cover the cost of telehealth services, according to Health Data Management.

Data from the Robert J. Waters Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law shows that CMS reimbursements for telehealth services have increased steadily since 2008, according to the report. Since 2001, CMS Medicare reimbursements for both distant site services and originating site services total $57.6 million, but critics still say it's not enough.

"The fact that in 2014 Medicare reimbursed $14 million for telehealth services out of a total of approximately $615 billion — merely 0.0023 percent of total spending — reflects the low priority placed on telehealth by Congress," Joel White, executive director of Health IT Now, a health IT coalition, told Health Data Management. "In the private sector, at the VA and in the DOD, new technologies are being integrated directly into the acute medical benefit, but Medicare's law is stuck in the 20th century."

While Mr. White and Health IT Now do not believe that telehealth and in-person care should receive reimbursement parity, the group is urging Congress to remove certain barriers to telehealth services in Medicare, according to the report.


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