ERIC’s Testimony Supporting New Jersey Telehealth Bill

June 9, 2017

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WRITTEN TESTIMONY ON BEHALF OF THE ERISA INDUSTRY COMMITTEE (ERIC) REGARDING TELEMEDICINE

BEFORE THE NEW JERSEY ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HEALTH AND SENIOR SERVICES

June 9, 2017

On behalf of The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), thank you for accepting testimony from interested stakeholders as you explore opportunities to expand and improve the delivery of health care through telemedicine in New Jersey. ERIC is the only national association that advocates exclusively for large employers on health, retirement, and compensation public policies at the federal, state, and local levels. We speak in one voice for our members on their benefit and compensation interests, including many members with employees and retirees in New Jersey.

As plan sponsors, our members strive to provide the best health care possible to their employees, retirees, and families at an affordable cost. At ERIC, we seek to enhance our members’ ability to provide high-quality, affordable health care. We recognize the significant opportunity provided by telemedicine to modernize health care delivery and improve access to quality medical care for workers and their dependents.

ERIC members want their employees to have the care they need – when and how they need it. Telemedicine offers many unique benefits that are appreciated by employees, retirees, and their families because it:

  • Increases access to medical care by allowing the patient-provider encounter to occur at a convenient location like home or work, and it prevents standard office hours from being a barrier to health care;
  • Provides access to care for rural and urban underserved populations, retirees, the elderly, disabled employees, and those with language barriers, chronic conditions, or transportation barriers that may otherwise not have access to care;
  • Minimizes the time spent attending a health care provider visit, making telehealth a great value to working parents, caregivers, and others struggling to balance work and family demands; and
  • Allows access to health care that is provided at an affordable, cost-effective rate.

ERIC is pleased that the Assembly Committee Substitute for Assembly Bill 1464 (ACS 1464) considers the needs of patients by allowing better access to care through the use of telemedicine, while recognizing that providers must maintain a high standard of care. ERIC believes that the standards governing in-person visits that ensure patient safety and quality care should also apply to telemedicine encounters. We appreciate that ACS 1464 permits the patient-provider relationship to be established through telemedicine services because requiring an initial in-person visit creates a barrier to access to health care.

Additionally, we are supportive of legislation that adopts technology-neutral requirements. This bill’s permission of two-way audio communication in conjunction with store-and-forward technology to be used for telemedicine services (with the provider’s discretion) rather than exclusively two-way audio-visual communication will benefit citizens that, either because of location or income level, cannot access a high-speed network connection. Finally, since cost savings are a foreseen benefit of telemedicine adoption, ERIC values the bill’s language stating that the reimbursement rate for telemedicine services cannot exceed that of the rate for in-person services.

ERIC urges the Committee to consider the needs of patients in New Jersey that stand to benefit from increased access to telemedicine services, to support ACS 1464, and to advance this bill out of Committee favorably.

Thank you for accepting our input on this legislation. ERIC is pleased to represent large employers with the goal of ensuring telemedicine benefits are accessible for millions of workers, retirees, and their families. If you have any questions concerning our written testimony, or if we can be of further assistance, please contact Adam Greathouse at agreathouse@eric.org or 202-627-1914.

Sincerely,

Adam J. Greathouse
Associate, Health Policy