News from the Health Law Gurus™ is a weekly summary of notable health law news from around the country with helpful links to related content.
AMA Releases Policy on Telemedicine—Last week, the American Medical Association (“AMA”) released a policy on the provision of telemedicine services to patients. While there is no agreed upon definition of telemedicine, generally, telemedicine refers to an encounter between a patient at one site and a physician at another site through the use of audio and visual communication devices, sometimes across state lines. The AMA policy reviews a number of existing telemedicine arrangements and makes recommendations for the practice of telemedicine including: requiring physicians to be licensed in the state where the patients receive the services, requiring at least one face-to-face consultation between a patient and physician in order to establish the relationship, and requiring proper documentation of physician-patient encounters. In announcing the policy, AMA President Dr. Robert M. Wah stated, “This new policy establishes a foundation for physicians to utilize telemedicine to help maintain an ongoing relationship with their patients, and as a means to enhance follow-up care, better coordinate care, and manage chronic conditions.” To read the AMA policy, click here.
HHS Report on ACA Premiums, Competition Released Wednesday —The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (“ASPE”) released a research brief called “Premium Affordability, Competition, and Choice in the Health Insurance Marketplace, 2014.” Of note among the findings, the average consumer using the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) created health insurance exchange had five health insurers and 47 health insurance plans to choose from. Additionally, silver plans (plans that cover 70% of the overall cost of providing health insurance benefits) were the most popular in 2014, and people selecting such plans who were eligible for tax credits paid an average of $69/month in premiums. The newly confirmed Secretary of HHS Sylvia Burwell stated that “the Marketplace is working. Consumers have more choices and they’re paying less for their premiums.” To read the ASPE report, click here.
House Committee, Congressional Aide under Investigation for Policy Tip—The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has issued subpoenas to the House Ways and Means Committee and congressional health care aide Brian Sutter as part of an ongoing investigation into whether someone in the government tipped off traders before a shift in Medicare policy was announced. A law requires government officials to hold nonpublic government information that could affect stock prices in confidence. The investigation was undertaken because health insurers’ stock prices jumped just moments before the announcement of the shift in Medicare policy. To read more, click here.
Burwell, CMS Announce New Positions to Oversee ACA Implementation—On Friday, June 20, 2014, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the creation of three new jobs by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) to bolster the implementation of the ACA. The CMS will add three positions: a Principal Deputy Administrator, a Marketplace Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), and a Marketplace Chief Technology Officer (“CTO”). The CEO will be responsible and accountable for managing the federal health insurance marketplace (also known as the “federal exchange”), and the CTO will be responsible for overseeing CMS project milestones and deliverables in the marketplace, according to an HHS press release. Individuals occupying these positions will work closely with Secretary Burwell to oversee the technical operations of the marketplace. To read the HHS press release, click here.