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Congress Recognizes Telehealth as Critical to Access Substance Abuse Treatment

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By Jennifer Esposito, Intel’s Worldwide General Manager, Health and Life Sciences Group

Jennifer-Esposito.jpgRight now, the President has the tremendous opportunity to sign into law the Support for Patients and Communities Act, a comprehensive approach to fighting the opioids epidemic that is hurting so many American families.

Contained in the legislation is a recognition of the value of telehealth in reaching more patients in more places. We know that widespread access to substance abuse treatment is a key solution to address the epidemic. This bill expands the use of telehealth services by eliminating certain legal originating site requirements for telehealth services provided to Medicare beneficiaries for the treatment of substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. And it would allow payment for those services offered via telehealth at originating sites, including a beneficiary’s home, regardless as of geographic location.

This bill represents a long-sought step forward in federal telemedicine policy. The recognition of telemedicine as a way to provide seniors with addiction disorder treatment should inspire the realization that this critical technology can provide needed care for all seniors.

The bill also directs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue guidance to states on options for providing services via telehealth that address substance use disorders under Medicaid. CMS will also issue a report to Congress identifying best practices and potential solutions to the barriers inhibiting telehealth services for children. Finally, the bill addresses the use of telemedicine to prescribe drugs that are commonly used to treat opioid addiction, but are themselves controlled substances.

Intel is helping to accelerate the digital transformation of healthcare. We are working to advance the technology used to improve quality, reduce cost and increase access. This bill is an important advancement toward a goal of patient centered care.
About the Author
Jennifer Esposito, General Manager, Health and Life Sciences Group. Jennifer believes that technology has the power to accelerate the transformation of healthcare and to improve health, quality of life, safety and security worldwide. She works with companies, organizations and governments around the world to help make this digital transformation real, today. With 20 years of experience, Jennifer brings deep healthcare, life sciences and biotechnology industry expertise along with a foundation in information and communication technology, and a view that spans across multiple other industries. Jennifer has a graduate degree from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at Dartmouth College where she focused on Epidemiology and Biostatistics. During her time at GE Healthcare she became a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and remains a full member of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. Jennifer is the co-chair of the Global Health Security Agenda Private Sector Roundtable and sits on the boards of Digital Square and USA Healthcare Alliance. Follow her @Jennifer_Espo and @IntelHealth