The coronavirus crisis swept international headlines early this year and has continued to take the forefront of countless media sources through the summer and autumn months. Because of the crisis’s magnitude, several healthcare-related stories have largely been overlooked. Below are some of the overshadowed headlines in healthcare that you may have missed due to COVID-19.
Several healthcare laws have been put on hold due to the pressing nature of the pandemic, yet the development of legislation on price transparency is still going strong. Price transparency legislature would require hospitals and medical care facilities to post the cost of certain services online, creating more competition, and providing consumers with more options when it comes to the cost of care.
As of now, the law is set to go into effect by the first of the year. It is currently tied up in a court battle, but lawmakers seem to lean towards passing a price transparency law. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) may charge a daily fee and report the names of any facilities that fail to follow the new set regulations.
One of the many movements in healthcare legislation that has been put on halt is ending surprise medical billing. Surprise billing occurs when a patient unwittingly receives health care from outside their insurance provider network, resulting in higher-than-anticipated medical bills. Lawmakers came close to passing a deal to end surprise billing at the end of 2019, but no consensus was reached.
The COVID-19 pandemic largely put the deal on hold. Some emergency legislation protecting patients from coronavirus-related surprise billing was passed, however, there are still reports of surprise bills seven months into the pandemic in America. Although a more permanent solution has been discussed, no additional progress has been made on a long-term fix thus far.
Before the US outbreak of COVID-19, telehealth’s popularity was already on the rise, but social distancing measures expedited the process. Telehealth has expanded from primary care services to virtual specialty services, complete with remote monitoring technology like glucose monitors and pulse oximeters. As the pandemic continues and technology improves, telehealth will likely become an increasingly large portion of healthcare services in the US.
Some companies like Universal Health Services and Intermountain Healthcare are providing remote services like post-acute home care and hospital-level care for specific illnesses, respectively. Previously, CMS has rules in place against remote patient monitoring, but with many of these restrictions being lifted for the coronavirus crisis, it is unlikely that the centers will restrict telehealth again in the future.
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