Meeting Public Comments
Subcommittee meeting and times are as follows:
A bill for an act relating to reimbursement rates for health care services for mental health conditions, illnesses, injuries, or diseases provided to covered persons by telehealth, and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions.(See HF 294.)
Subcommittee members: Fry-CH, Andrews, Sunde
Date: Thursday, January 21, 2021
Time: 8:00 AM - 8:15 AM
Location: RM 103, Sup. Ct. Chamber
Names and comments are public records. Remaining information is considered a confidential record.Comments Submitted:
Kelly Barta [Allergy & Asthma Network]
Dear Representative Fry and Subcommittee Members,Allergy & Asthma Network, a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting and improving the health of people with allergies, asthma and related conditions, strongly supports bill HF 89, which relates to reimbursement rates for health care services provided to covered persons by telehealth, including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions.The discovery, development and commercialization of innovative technologies are important to address unmet medical needs and improve patients lives. Telemedicine functions as a complement to existing healthcare resources by increasing access to affordable medical treatment. The delivery system uses technology tools that are pervasive in modern daily life, and it can provide a valuable and costeffective way for people to get necessary treatment.Many patients who suffer from allergies, especially those with allergyrelated skin conditions, would benefit from greater and more convenient access to a physician. For patients with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD, telemedicine would be an effective way to provide disease education and improved disease management. This is particularly true in rural areas, where visiting a physicians office could require traveling lengthy distances.Allergy & Asthma Network supports legislation that helps patients get the care they need, especially during times of a national pandemic as such we have experienced this past year. Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please contact me at (770) 8813291 to learn more and visit us at www.AllergyAsthmaNetwork.org.Sincerely,Kelly BartaAllergy & Asthma Network
Denise Rathman [National Association of Social Workers, IA]
In December 2020, the National Association of Social Workers, Iowa Chapter surveyed members, other social workers and other mental health professionals. 315 professionals answered the survey. The results of this survey support the efficacy of telehealth and the need to reimburse telehealth visits at 100% of the rate of inoffice visits. Below is a very brief summary of the survey results. Monetary and Time Costs of providing Telehealth Services support the need for 100% reimbursement of InOffice RatesOnly 15% of respondents said that Conducting my practice via telehealth is less expensive than providing services inperson.49 % said conducting my practice via telehealth is about the same cost or more expensive than providing services inperson. Clients are WellServed by TelehealthMore than 90% of respondents feel that clients are more likely or about as likely to keep telehealth appointment as on inoffice appointment.62% of respondents feel that their clients get as much out of telehealth interactions as they do inperson interactions.Only 2.5% responded most clients dont seem to get as much out of telehealth.When asked, What has been the biggest surprise for you as you use telehealth in your practice?How wonderfully it has worked, especially with children. Play therapy has been especially fun as kids grab so many of their own toys and guide me in their play. Ive also gained so many new clients that I wouldnt have had previously because they can meet quickly over lunch, or before their kids get home, etc.I've been very positively surprised by how effective telehealth is in my practice. Instead of it being a "last choice" option, I'll do more of it in the future IF pay rates are equitable. It's definitely not easier than inperson work if anything it's harder.NASWIA urges the members of the subcommittee to vote Yes on HF 89.
Audrey Stamps [Audrey Giese, LMHC, LLC]
Please support this telehealth parity bill. As a mental health counselor, telehealth has been a crucial tool to provide services during this pandemic. It is also necessary to provide access to services to Iowans whoay not otherwise such as those in rural communities or those who are home bound. It is also crucial that audio only sessions be included in this bill as some Iowans don't have access or knowledge to use the technology needed to do video sessions. As a provider, doing telehealth has not been cheaper as I still need to pay rent for the office I keep for the in person sessions I also offer. There is also additional expenses such as HIPAA compliant telehealth platform programs, HIPAA compliant documentation programs, and HIPAA compliant email and communication methods.
Jill Sudak-Allison [Full Heart Family Therapy]
Please support this telehealth parity bill. As a mental health counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist. Telehealth has allowed clients struggling during the pandemic to receive valuable counseling support. Telehealth has offered employees less time away from work as they do not have to drive to and from sessions but still receive valuable help. It is also crucial that audio only sessions be included in this bill, I have clients who are not skilled in using technology nor have the bandwidth to do a telehealth session. Sometimes the broadband does not work throughout the entire session. As a provider, doing telehealth has not lessened my expenses as I continue to pay rent for my office space. I also have to pay for an online HIPAA compliant telehealth program, and a documentation program. Please consider how much telehealth and audio communication saves money in time and travel as well as in lowering the risk of a client not getting needed mental health services. Thank you, Dr. SudakAllison, PhD, LMHC, LMFT
Leslie Carpenter [Iowa Mental Health Advocacy]
Please support this bill. As a serious brain illness advocate and the mother of an adult son with a serious brain illness, I can attest that Telehealth has been truly helpful on many different levels, especially during this pandemic. This has allowed both psychiatric and medical Telehealth appointments to happen for people with mental illnesses who are at risk while living in group settings. In addition, allowing for audio only visits for these patients, many of whom are paranoid about cameras and computers, has been very helpful.Another aspect that has been a true positive is that Telehealth has allowed for some people to get mental healthcare who might not have sought it in person, due to the stigma associated with this. This is a very helpful thing to allow for more people to get the medical treatment they truly need for their brain illnesses.And, we have seen fewer cancellations and no shows for these appointments, allowing for increased efficiency for the few psychiatric providers we have in Iowa, which increases access to care.I urge you to extend coverage for these types of visits and support this bill.
Renee Schulte [Iowa Mental Health Counselors Assoc, NAMI-Iowa, Integrated Telehealth Partners]
Thank you Representatives for bringing this bill forward. It is an important piece of legislation.I'm Renee Schulte and am registered in support of the bill for the Iowa Mental Health Counselor Association, National Alliance of the Mentally IllIowa, and Integrated Telehealth Partners.Telehealth has been a life line through the pandemic. Statistics show that fewer people cancelled appointments as need rose in our state. More people were able to keep consistent care and medication renewals as well in mental health and other specialties. A year ago, 11% of Iowans were identified as scoring high on depression or anxiety scales. That number has risen to over 44% at times in the pandemic. The need has never been greater. With COVID distancing measures many providers moved online to fulfill the needs of Iowans while protecting their health and the health of their clients.Although there was an agreement at the end of session for a major carrier to allow funding parity for mental health, the constant back and forth of the decision has caused undo stress on our providers. The work of mental health providers is the same regardless of the setting. And, costs associated are similar if not different providing services virtually. I know audio only is being handled in HF 88. However I'd ask you to consider adding it to this legislation as well. There are many stories of people not having broadband to connect with video yet could maintain appointments and keep medications without gaps due to audio only services. Pre COVID, I would have been against this, but the pandemic showed a great need to connect to those who do not have video access. On behalf of IMHCA, NAMI Iowa and ITP I'm asking for your support on this bill.