Bill would advance telemedicine
WASHINGTON — New legislation aims to increase access to telemedicine services through government-sponsored health programs.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., recently introduced H.R. 6719, the Telehealth Promotion Act of 2012, which would establish that "no [medical] benefit covered shall be excluded solely because it is furnished via a telecommunications system," allowing greater access to telemedicine services through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Tricare, Department of Veterans Affairs and federal employee health plans.
The bill would also create a new federal standard for medical licensure, requiring that providers in federal health plans be licensed only in the states of their physical locations and free to treat eligible patients anywhere in the country.
The bill won praise from a telemedicine industry association.
"This is a major step forward in congressional support for telemedicine and would extend the benefits of telehealth and [mobile health] to nearly 75 million Americans," American Telemedicine Association CEO Jonathan Linkous said. "Rep. Thompson clearly understands that telemedicine is a value — for patients, for the government and for the American taxpayer. We encourage other legislators to support this win-win bill, which will improve health care and decrease federal health expenditures."
In addition, the bill would change existing Medicare and Medicaid programs by creating incentives for hospitals to use telemedicine to lower readmission rates; expanding the "Medical Home" coordinated-care option; exempting accountable care organizations from telehealth fee-for-service restrictions and allowing them to use telemedicine as a substitute for in-person care; launching new pilot programs for remote patient monitoring for up to 10 Department of Health and Human Services-designated conditions; adjusting reimbursement timelines for home health to better facilitate remote patient monitoring; and creating a telemedicine service option in Medicaid to treat high-risk pregnancies.
"This bill represents a panacea for federal involvement in telemedicine, eliminating archaic barriers and expanding opportunities for remote health care," Linkous said. "If passed, this bill will almost instantly make our federally funded health system more effective and more efficient."
We love our telemedicine plan, my wife just had a beautiful baby girl on Oct 28th 2012, having a doctor on call 24/7/365 is a great relief to us. Disclaimer: I must admit I’m just a little biased as I work with telemedicine providers signing up individuals, companies, associations, small and large groups for telemedicine and dental plans at wholesale prices. We’re looking for B to B and B to C sales people in all 50 states. Jeremy Green 323 393 3069
Walgreens further elevates beauty at mass with ‘Night at the W’
Following the "People’s Choice Awards," Walgreens is celebrating its involvement in the awards by hosting “Night at the W” events at its stores nationwide on Jan. 10.
The “Night at the W,” which leverages the expertise of its beauty advisers, is yet another example of how the pharmacy retailer is elevating the beauty experience at mass. And the event is an ideal way to promote its beauty advisers.
With a staff of 26,000-plus beauty advisers, the expansion of the LOOK Boutique concept, the expertise from its online beauty engine Beauty.com, and the merger with Alliance Boots, Walgreens is giving the U.S. mass-market beauty world a significant makeover, and the “Night and the W” events further illustrate the effort.
The retailer’s voyage to makeover the beauty experience within its stores really gained traction following the 2010 acquisition of Duane Reade. As the number of LOOK Boutiques within both Duane Reade and Walgreens continue to grow, the company is also creating a multi-channel play inside the store by tying in some of the e-commerce assets the company acquired in 2011 in the Drugstore.com deal.
Then there’s the merger agreement with Alliance Boots, which will undoubtedly serve as a powerful accelerant to its existing beauty strategy. Alliance Boots has seen great success with its No. 7 brand — a top-selling brand in the U.K. for face, lip and eye makeup. Walgreens’ recent opening of its flagship store in Los Angeles marked the first time that No. 7 was available in a Walgreens location.
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Healthcare pioneer Steve Burd will still have an indelible impact on healthcare reform
After 20 years at the helm, Safeway CEO Steve Burd last week announced his retirement to spend more time with family and pursue interests in health care. He will be leaving behind a Safeway that’s gaining market share with each passing quarter within a highly competitive sector.
But he shouldn’t go far. As a champion of health reform and consumer directed care, Burd will likely continue to be a pioneer in the healthcare space as companies begin to implement Obamacare in 2014.
To be sure, before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was even signed into law on March 23, 2010, Burd was already pioneering several healthcare reforms designed to incentivize consumer directed care at Safeway. And the success of those programs, which Burd outlined in a 2009 Wall Street Journal op-ed, helped popularize a "Safeway amendment" within healthcare reform, whereby employers can provide employees reimbursement of up to 20% of insurance premiums — rising up to 30% in 2014 or 50% with special approval — if they participate in reasonable wellness programs.
"Safeway’s plan capitalizes on two key insights gained in 2005," Burd wrote in his WSJ op-ed. "The first is that 70% of all healthcare costs are the direct result of behavior. The second insight, which is well understood by the providers of health care, is that 74% of all costs are confined to four chronic conditions — cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Furthermore, 80% of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is preventable, 60% of cancers are preventable, and more than 90% of obesity is preventable."
It’s that kind of insight, that kind of personal experience in creating, massaging and implementing a workable solution to lower an employer’s healthcare costs that will prove invaluable in the coming year.
And he’s not alone; DSN found this video press conference on the Facebook page of the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform, of which Burd was a founding member, that was posted Jan. 30, 2009. Check it out. While the most recent presidential election helped polarize attitudes toward "Obamacare," this serves as a reminder as to what’s at stake and how healthcare reform will impact your business.
So what do you think? Have the predominant healthcare reform issues changed much since 2009? Does Obamacare effectively address many of the concerns outlined in the CAHR press conference? Is your company in the process of replicating incentive-driven, consumer-directed healthcare programs similar to the one that Burd set up at Safeway? Sound off in the comments section below!
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