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Monthly Archives

June 2022

How Telehealth Legislation Will Evolve During the Pandemic & Beyond

By News

Source: HealthCareExecIntelligence

By Anuja Vaidya

Despite numerous bills to solidify telehealth flexibilities enacted during the pandemic, none have passed in Congress, leaving the future of telehealth access and adoption uncertain.

– The significant spike in the use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic was made possible by numerous legislative waivers that were quickly enacted as in-person care stalled. Two years later, many of those flexibilities are still intact, but their future is unclear.

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Three telehealth legislation experts — Jacob Harper, an associate with law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Christa Natoli, executive director of the Center for Telehealth and E-Health Law (CTeL), and Ben Steinhafel, policy director of CTeL — discussed the current regulatory landscape for telehealth at the federal and state levels on the Healthcare Strategies podcast.

At the federal level, several bills have been introduced to make permanent or extend flexibilities enacted during the pandemic, including the CONNECT for Health Act and Telehealth Extension Act. One of the key provisions in these bills is eliminating geographic restrictions on originating sites for telehealth services.

But none of these bills have passed yet, though Congress did extend telehealth waivers for Medicare beneficiaries for at least five months after the public health emergency officially expires.

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HHS Releases HIPAA-Related Guidance for Audio-Only Telehealth

By News

Source: mHealthIntellience
By Anuja Vaidya

The guidance aims to answer common questions about providing audio-only telehealth services in compliance with HIPAA privacy and security regulations.

June 13, 2022 – The HIPAA Security Rule does not apply to care provided through traditional telephone lines but does apply to mobile technologies that leverage electronic media like WiFi, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) clarified in a new guidance.

HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released the guidance, which details how covered healthcare providers and health plans can provide audio-only telehealth services within the bounds of HIPAA.

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, led to the creation of national standards to protect patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.
In April 2020, OCR issued a notification of enforcement discretion for telehealth amid the rapidly growing COVID-19 public health crisis.

The notification stated that OCR would not impose penalties for HIPAA noncompliance on covered healthcare providers “in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.”

Specifically, OCR said it would not penalize covered entities for using non-public facing remote products to communicate with patients, even when the technology and its use do not fully comply with HIPAA rules.

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PCC Receives $7.2 Million FCC Connected Care Pilot Program Award

By News

BAMBERG, SC—The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Connected Care Pilot Program will
award $7,199,892 over three years to Palmetto State Providers Network, a consortium of health care providers led by Palmetto Care Connections (PCC), a statewide, non-profit telehealth network. “The last few years have made it abundantly clear that expanding telehealth programs to every corner of our state is of the utmost importance in advancing our public health missions,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “This funding will have an immediate impact on expanding access, quality, and affordability of health care statewide and will help bring us closer to providing immediate health care access to the fingertips of all South Carolinians.”

“This FCC funding represents the largest Connected Care Pilot Program award in South Carolina, and the second largest single Connected Care Pilot Program award in the nation,” said Chairman of the PCC Board of Directors Rick Foster, MD. “We congratulate Palmetto Care Connections and the health care consortium members on this extraordinary award and look forward to the positive impact that this pilot telehealth program will have on the health of underserved South Carolinians.”

“Palmetto Care Connections is delighted to receive this FCC Connected Care Pilot Program award on
behalf of six of our state’s health care provider broadband consortium members,” said PCC Chief Executive Officer Kathy Schwarting. “Our goal is that this pilot program will become a model for implementing remote patient monitoring and synchronous telehealth to improve the health and quality of life for underserved residents throughout the state.”

The funding will enable five Federally Qualified Health Centers and one hospital system to provide broadband internet access services, remote patient monitoring, and video consults to 5,000 primarily low-income South Carolinians suffering from chronic conditions and infectious diseases. In addition, the funding will provide health care provider broadband data connections, a connected care telehealth platform and data analytics to facilitate synchronous telehealth services for an estimated 18,000 patients in 13 counties, an overall average of 80 percent of which are low-income.

The consortium members that participated in the funding request are Federally Qualified Health
Centers – CareSouth Carolina, Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center, Little River Medical Center, Rural Health Services, and Tandem Health; and hospital system – Tidelands Health.

The counties that are in the health care organizations’ service areas to be impacted by the pilot
program are Aiken, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Fairfield, Georgetown, Horry, Lee, Lexington, Marlboro, Newberry, Richland, and Sumter.

PCC’s telehealth pilot program is one of 107 projects serving patients in 40 states plus Washington, D.C. that was selected by the FCC for Connected Care Pilot Program funding.

Established in 2010, PCC is a non-profit organization that provides technology, broadband, and
telehealth support services to health care providers in rural and underserved areas in S.C. PCC co-chairs the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance, along with the Medical University of South Carolina, serving as an advocate for rural providers and partnering with organizations to improve health care access and delivery for all South Carolinians. PCC’s Digital Inclusion Program provides a digital device, digital literacy training and assistance with obtaining low-cost internet service for residents of rural and underserved S.C. communities.

PCC Chief Executive Officer Kathy Schwarting received South Carolina’s 2021 Community Star award
presented by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health for her leadership as a champion for rural health care and broadband access. The National Cooperative of Health Networks Association named Palmetto Care Connections as the 2021 Outstanding Health Network of the Year.