Too Early but On Time

Carter L. Alleman, J.D.

Happy 2016! The New Year will bring one of the most interesting years in healthcare policy. Like most New Year’s resolutions, many of the following predictions will be well intentioned but will slowly be broken over the course of the coming months.

Congress is set to begin, again, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. This will be the first big task for Congress to tackle once it returns from its holiday break. The bill will face an immediate veto from President Obama if it actually passes both chambers.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Economic, Labor, Pensions (HELP), laid out the Committee’s priority for 2016 which include the Senate’s companion bill to the House’s 21st Century Cures Act, working to reform the mental health system, as well as, working on strengthening care towards substance abusers. The 21st Century Cures companion is expected to include more IT requirements for EHR vendors in an effort to make EHRs functional in the marketplace. The HELP Committee will also be working on a Chronic Care Initiative, which is expected to provide new guidelines and polices towards treatment of chronic care. Work is continuing with CDC over its new opioid prescription guideline rule-making. Depending on how the final rule is published, the HELP Committee may look to include a rewrite in its Chronic Care Initiative.

Telehealth will become a common topic on the Hill and in statehouses once the Texas lawsuit is decided. The lawsuit concerns recent regulations that allow for telehealth services to be provided only if there is an already established relationship between the doctor and the patient. The doctor has to have done an initial examination in person before services are allowed to be used. The argument the telehealth industry is making is the additional requirements produce an unfair burden on doctors and patients accessing telehealth services. Another telehealth areas that will likely to see movement this year is the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. It is expected that a vast majority of state legislatures will be examining this issue prior to the end of their sessions. The Compact will act as a clearing house for licensing in multiple jurisdictions and help advance access to telemedicine.

ACOS will be there at the table as these and many other issues are addressed. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us throughout the year. The only way to make ACOS stronger is through your continued support...There is a resolution that can last the whole year!