The ERIC Telehealth Initiative

June 14, 2015

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The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) recognizes the significant opportunity provided by telehealth to enable transformation of health care in rural settings and urban underserved areas, improve productivity in the workplace, and provide cost-savings for employers and patients. ERIC members, the largest and most prestigious companies in the country, consider telehealth an emerging and important service enabling employees and their families to have expanded access to health care services such as with remote monitoring of health conditions or telehealth visits when more convenient given family and work commitments.

Recognizing the need for consistent telehealth policies around the country that do not create unnecessary barriers to health care services, ERIC is leading a nation-wide initiative to promote policies that maximize the benefits of this modern, innovative health care delivery tool. Consistent state rules, including broad definitions of telehealth and telehealth technologies, are important to the ability of large employers to offer this service to employees living and working across the country. ERIC’s effort will go state by state to try and ensure that state legislatures, regulators, medical boards, and others do not impose barriers to telehealth services that reduce the availability or effectiveness of the service, or increase its cost.

ERIC’s initiative is a collaborative effort to advance access to telehealth. Are you or your organization interested in becoming more involved? If so, or for more information, please contact Adam Greathouse at the ERISA Industry Committee at 202-627-1914.

ERIC in Telehealth News

Arkansas Redrafting Telemedicine Rules (Politico)
ERIC's recent letter to the Arkansas State Medical Board, advocating for large employers' interests in telehealth, was highlighted in Politico's Morning eHealth.

The state should not place additional requirements on telemedicine providers as it develops new telemedicine rules, a trade group representing large employers like General Mills, Wal-Mart and FedEx said Thursday. "There should not be artificial barriers that unnecessarily limit access to medical services provided through telemedicine when there are existing requirements in place to hold providers to high standards of care," wrote Annette Guarisco Fildes, president of the ERISA Industry Committee, in the letter to the Arkansas State Medical Board. The committee is meeting Aug. 12 and solicited comments before then. Arkansas has among the least friendly telemedicine state regs.  The full letter: http://bit.ly/1OE9Z5u

States Under Lobbying Pressure to Change Virtual Doctor Visit Rules, Laws (Politico)
ERIC's lobbying efforts for telehealth-friendly rules and laws are featured in this Politico article that explores how telehealth laws are quickly advancing in the states.

Telemedicine has entered the mainstream and become a policy buzzword thanks to massive, state-by-state lobbying by an army of corporate reps who have pushed state legislators and even sued a state agency that passed restrictive telemedicine policies.

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The ERISA Industry Committee, a trade group representing large employers like General Mills, Wal-Mart and FedEx, started this spring lobbying states for more telemedicine-friendly rules and laws. “We just like to make sure there aren’t rules adopted state-by-state that put up hurdles that make the benefit something that either can’t be provided or can only be provided under very limited circumstances,” Chief Executive Annette Guarisco said in an interview.

Big business backs virtual doctor visits as Texas loses fight for limits USA Today

This article features Annette Guarisco Fildes, ERIC’s President and CEO, highlighting employees’ support for telehealth services and ERIC’s telehealth initiative to foster widespread adoption and uniformity in telehealth policies.

The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), which represents the country's largest employers including General Motors and Walmart on employee benefits issues, is directing a new state telemedicine lobbying effort that also includes patient groups and consumer advocates. The goal is to convince state legislatures that telemedicine is needed to keep health care costs down and that state laws need to be more consistent in what they allow.

"The risk will fester in Texas, as long as the threat from the board's court case continues and other states also impose hurdles to the use of telemedicine." says Annette Guarisco, CEO of the industry committee. "Uniformly, employees really like it as a benefit and that is why employers don't want any curtailment at this point."

Other Telehealth News

Doctors' Virtual Consults With Patients To Double by 2020 (Forbes)

Thanks to expanding health insurance coverage, the number of virtual video consultations between primary health care providers and their patients will double in five years in the U.S. fueling the nation's telehealth boom.

Telemedicine: A Solution To Address The Problems of Cost, Access, and Quality (Health Affairs)

The driving principle of care has not changed: the best care is that patients have access to when and where they need it. Telemedicine is an essential tool to deliver care.

Telehealth Expected to Soar  (Benefits Pro)

For many consumers, a visit to the doctor will soon be as simple as turning on the television.

Telemedicine is Unstoppable  (Health Leaders Media)

Resistance from regulators, restrictive licensing rules that make it difficult for doctors to practice in multiple states, and even push-back from physicians themselves stand in the way of telemedicine. But nothing seems to be able to stop it.

Are State Laws Holding Back Telehealth?  (Healthcare Informatics)

Health law expert breaks down the variances in telehealth policy and looks at what the future holds.

AMA ethics council pushes off telemedicine guidelines  (Mobi Health News)

This week the American Medical Association’s ethics council attempted to come to an agreement over a set of guidelines focused on ethical considerations related to the use of online or mobile visits between patients and physicians, but a physician from Texas helped convince the committee to rethink its plans. The guidelines were tabled and sent back to committee for further review. The earliest they could be floated again is November.

21st Century Cures punts on telehealth  (mHealthNews)

A provision in the 21st Century Cures Act that calls for an intensive study of telehealth could help boost access and reimbursement.
Or - more likely - not.

Health Industry Dials Up Telehealth for Growth  (The Motley Fool)

Some of the biggest names in healthcare are taking advantage of the latest video technology available from tablets, smartphones, and desktop computers to virtually link doctors to their patients.