Last week, the federal government indicated that telehealth should be embraced and possibly expanded permanently after the COVID-19 pandemic. In a June 8th live virtual town hall with STAT News, Seema Verma, the top administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said that she “can’t imagine going back,” to a healthcare system which focuses so many resources solely on physical visits. As patients and their families continue to realize the benefits of expanded telemedicine services, Verma believes that forcing all beneficiaries to resume in-person appointments would be a step backwards.
The next big question facing CMS – how telehealth visits should be reimbursed.
If telehealth coverage is to permanently expand, major congressional action is needed—and quickly. Although CMS has allowed physicians to provide telehealth visits in states where they are not licensed, this provision only applies for the duration of the pandemic. Even with CMS encouragement, major legislation and bipartisan support will be required for truly transformational change.
“People recognize the value of [teleheath], so it seems like it would not be a good thing to force our beneficiaries to go back to in-person visits.”
– Seema Verma, Administrator, CMS, June 8, 2020
While Vynca applauds CMS for meeting the challenges facing the American healthcare system today, we believe this is only a start. Vynca’s mission is to provide patients, caregivers, and their providers with the clearest and least confusing path towards creating actionable advance care planning documents. Whether it is an advance directive, healthcare power of attorney, or a POLST form, Vynca believes that everyone deserves to have their healthcare wishes known and honored. To that end, we believe that states should adopt a version of the Uniform Electronic Wills Act (UEWA).
We hope that states continue to capitalize on this unique moment in healthcare. As many governors suspended in-person notarization and witnessing requirements during the pandemic, it is clear that electronic wills are the future of estate planning. Advance care planning documents should similarly be accessible to patients, their families, and their healthcare providers to ensure everyone receives appropriate care at end-of-life that best aligns with their wishes.
Alex Paris is a summer legal intern at Vynca. He is a rising third year law student at Michigan State University College of Law where he is the Notes Editor of the Law Review.