News Blog

CMS Releases New and Expanded Flexibilities for Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Friday, April 17, 2020

To provide as much support as possible to RHCs and FQHCs and their patients during the COVID-19 PHE, both Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have made several changes to the RHC and FQHC requirements and payments. These changes are for the duration of the COVID-19 PHE.  CMS will make additional discretionary changes as necessary to assure that RHC and FQHC patients have access to the services they need during the pandemic. For additional information, please see the CMS RHC/FQHC COVID-19 FAQs.
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Proposed Legislation to Significantly Expand FCC Rural Health Care Program
Friday, April 10, 2020 Legislative Updates

Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-California) and Don Young (R-Alaska) have jointly sponsored a bill to significantly expand funding for the FCC's Rural Healthcare Program.  The bill, if it becomes law, will add $2B to program for fiscal year 2020 with carryover of unused funds for up to two additional years.  The bill also raises the discount rate for eligible expenses from 65 to 85% and makes other changes that expand program eligibility and filing windows.  Click here to view the full text of the bill as originally introducedClick here to track the bill.
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NM Behavioral Health Services Division Expands Payments to Include Telehealth
Monday, March 30, 2020

This news item reproduces a March 30 official communication from the NM Behavioral Health Services Division.

To all Behavioral Health providers offering services in the State of New Mexico

During this period of extraordinary emergency that all of us are facing due to the novel corona virus, it is more important than ever to continue to make available the unique support, guidance, therapy, and direction, to all of our neighbors, that Behavioral Health professionals are trained to deliver. As Secretary David Scrase, MD wrote: “Behavioral Health services are MORE essential than ever.”

So, to clarify confusion that we know has arisen due to mixed and less than clear messages: Behavioral Health providers are deemed ESSENTIAL health care service providers under the Directives of the Governor and Secretary of Health in New Mexico.

At the same time, we know that the emergency makes it challenging to deliver those services in a safe face to face manner. This is precisely why the Medicaid Letter of Direction #30 – and the accompanying directives to Falling Colors, governing State Funded non-Medicaid services, as well as the Directive from Russell Toal, Superintendent of Insurance to private insurers – opens up payment for services rendered telephonically or via other simultaneous electronic means for the vast majority of behavioral health services at the same rate as for face to face services.

If services can be provided electronically, that is the way they should be delivered.

My own experience as a provider of telehealth services for many years here in New Mexico made clear that training for effective delivery goes a long way to assuring the quality of service delivery. Such training is readily available through, among other sources, the Southwest Telehealth Resource Center (https://southwesttrc.org). I encourage you to avail yourself of some training for your practitioners delivering services remotely.

I am personally extraordinarily grateful for, and inspired by, the efforts so many of you have made to deliver these ESSENTIAL services to all our neighbors, and request that you continue to do so. If conditions have arisen that make that impossible, please let BHSD, your MCOs or other insurers, and Medicaid know about the situation so that we can explore possible solutions.

To access the LODs and Directive from OSI:

https://www.hsd.state.nm.us/providers/communication-to-bh-providers-1.aspx

Neal A. Bowen, PhD
Director, Behavioral Health Services Division
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Telehealth Regulatory Updates in Response to COVID-19
Friday, March 27, 2020

There have been a number of recent regulatory developments in response to COVID-19.  Telehealth is a beneficiary of some of these developments as governmental agencies move rapidly to remove barriers to the delivery of healthcare services at a distance.  The Center for Connected Health Policy has been tracking these developments and publishing related Web-accessible resources. Rather than duplicate those resources on our Web site, we're providing a link to their Web page which includes national and state-by-state developments under the Telehealth Policy link in the top menu.

The New Mexico Telehealth Alliance stands ready to assist healthcare providers and service locations that want to increase the availability of their services to New Mexicans.  Please contact us if you need advice or assistance.


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Medicare/Medicaid Changes to Expand Telehealth Services
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

President Trump's recent COVID-19 emergency declaration included rules that provide states with additional flexibility to increase access to telehealth services for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.  See this PowerPost news item for further details.  Expect a rapid response from New Mexico State government to take advantage of the rule changes.
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HHS Urged to Make New Mexico’s Telestroke Program a National Model
Tuesday, October 08, 2019

The Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) has recommended that New Mexico's hub-and-spoke telehealth program for cerebral care, known as ACCESS, become a national model supported by Medicare. Click here for more details.  ...

FCC Releases Report and Order 19-78: Promoting Telehealth in America
Friday, August 30, 2019

On August 20, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission released a Report and Order reforming the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to promote transparency and predictability, and to further the efficient allocation of limited program resources while guarding against waste, fraud, and abuse. Read the Report and Order here.

While the Report and Order includes a number of changes to the RHC Program, the overall structure of the Program will remain the same. The RHC Program will still have two sub-programs: the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program and the Telecom Program. Applicants will still be required to seek eligibility, submit requests for funding, requests for services, and invoicing forms.

The changes initiated by the Report and Order will apply to Funding Year (FY) 2020 and beyond, and will not affect FY2019.
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Governor Signs Telemedicine Bill
Friday, April 19, 2019

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed SB354 into law on April 4, 2019.  Click here to view the final version of the bill.  Thanks to all that helped along the way.
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New Mexico Senate Bill 354
Friday, March 01, 2019

SB 354 passed the senate and is now under consideration in the house.The bill contains a number of provisions though its most important and perhaps controversial is to establish payment parity between services delivered via telemedicine and the same services delivered in-person. As such, the bill has the potential to increase telemedicine use in New Mexico by increasing the financial incentive to deliver those services. Click the link at the beginning of this article to access the full text of the bill, view related legislative analysis and committee reports, and track its progress and scheduled activity.  
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New Mexico Senate Bill 354

New Mexico Senate Bill 354
Friday, February 22, 2019

SB 354 (Health Coverage via Telemedicine) has received all needed committee approvals and will be considered by the full state senate early next week.  The bill contains a number of provisions though its most important and perhaps controversial is to establish payment parity between services delivered via telemedicine and the same services delivered in-person.  As such, the bill has the potential to increase telemedicine use in New Mexico by increasing the financial incentive to deliver those services.  Click the link at the beginning of this article to access the full text of the bill, view related legislative analysis and committee reports, and track its progress and scheduled activity.


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