State Senate Budget Includes Telehealth

The state senate this week passed a $30.5 billion state budget for FY 2012 that included a major priority of the Home Care Alliance.

An amendment instructing MassHealth to reimburse for telehealth remote patient monitoring provided by a home health agency was adopted by the Senate.  That provision must now survive a conference committee made up of House and Senate members who will work out differences between the House and Senate budget proposals and send the finished version to the Governor for his approval.

The amendment passage is a victory for home health care and reflects a greater understanding from the state legislature on issues important to the industry. Moreover, the adoption of the telehealth amendment, while only a first step in the process, is also recognition of the cost savings that home health agencies and the use of technology can provide.

Most of the 599 budget amendments proposed in the Senate did not make it through, including restoration of MassHealth rates of payment for home health past 60 days, a pediatric home care amendment, and another that would have established a special care transitions rate for home care agencies.

Two amendments regarding adult day health were also adopted.  One would establish licensure standards for adult day health providers and the other would require MassHealth to notify the legislature of any changes to rates or clinical eligibility criteria for adult day health services.

Other amendments of note include:

  • An amendment was adopted that would require MassHealth to annually notify each beneficiary over 65 about their options regarding enrollment in voluntary programs, including Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) plans, MassHealth Senior Care Options, Frail Elder Home and Community Based Waiver Program and “any other voluntary elected benefit to which such beneficiary is entitled to supplement or replace such beneficiary’s MassHealth benefits.”
  • An amendment was rejected that would allow nursing homes to place a hold on beds for residents who are transferred to the hospital for emergency care.
  • An amendment was adopted to provide an additional $1 million for elder protective services (total amount: $16,250,554).
  • An amendment was adopted to provide an undisclosed amount of funding to elder pre-admission options counseling.
  • An amendment was adopted providing an additional $4 million for Day Habilitation Services
  • The Salary Reserve for human service workers was not approved, but the Senate did approve a substitute amendment enable human service provider agencies to purchase health insurance through the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector for their employees earning less than $40,000/year.

For any questions or further information on the state budget, contact James Fuccione at the Alliance.

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One thought on “State Senate Budget Includes Telehealth”

  1. Telehealth is a field that will play a significant role in caring for all age groups. We need to advocate for our frail elders and all population that struggle with chronic disease. It is proving to empower patients in their care, increase compliance and a cost effective method of providing care. The Governor needs to approve this now!

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