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Some senators want to expand telemedicine service via Medicare



The U.S. Senate Chamber.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators are introducing a bill  to  expand telemedicine service through Medicare benefits.

Modern Healthcare reports that the  Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act (PDF), “would expand the use of remote patient-monitoring for some patients with chronic conditions, increase telemedicine services in community health centers and rural health clinics, and provide basic telemedicine benefits through Medicare Advantage.”

Backers also tout the measure as having the added benefit of helping providers meet the goals of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.

The CONNECT Act  is supported by  several industry groups, including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Heart Association and Kaiser Permanente.

“This bill would ensure that patients and their physicians are able to use new technologies that remove barriers to timely quality care. Importantly, the bill would maintain high standards whether a patient is seeing a physician in an office or via telemedicine,” said Dr. Steven J. Stack, president of the American Medical Association.

Heart Assn. focuses on social determinants of heart health



The American Heart Association  is urging public- and private-sector healthcare policymakers to pay  more attention to the social factors that influence heart health, such as race, education and location.

This all comes under what we at Cambridge Management Group have long worked to understand  and address — the social determinants of health.

“What we’re discovering is that this is a very complicated space and there may be a number of variables beyond people’s control that have an impact on their health,” Dr. Clyde Yancy, an author of the report, told Reuters. Dr. Yancy  is chief of cardiology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.

He gave as an example  new research suggesting that local pollution levels are tied to the risk of high blood pressure, among an area’s population.

The AHA group  notes that deaths from cardiovascular disease have declined since the 1970s thanks to advances in prevention and treatment.

But the group noted  that not all groups have benefited equally across economic, racial and ethnic groups. “Overall population health cannot improve if parts of the population do not benefit from improvements in prevention and treatment,” it wrote.

They cited social and economic status, race, ethnicity, social support, culture and language, access to care and place of residence as determining factors of health.




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