Advamed floats digital health coverage proposal

The Advanced Medical Technology Association (Advamed) has proposed a Medicare coverage framework for digital health products the association said will expand remote patient monitoring and improve patient access to the latest advances in the field. The proposal is accompanied by a white paper by Capview Strategies of Washington, which noted that the statute neither specifically addresses nor limit Medicare coverage of digital health technologies, and that telehealth is not within the scope of the report. The authors state that Medicare coverage pathways must be updated in order to accommodate recent advances in digital health, although there are administrative options available to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The report made several recommendations, including that digital health technologies be covered under the durable medical equipment benefit for technologies that are used in home and community settings. This approach might also improve access to devices that have been entered into the FDA breakthrough devices program, the report said. Technologies that can be covered indirectly as an allowable cost within the inpatient, outpatient and physician fee schedules might be handled by revisiting mechanisms such as coding review processes, but also by an examination of the alignment between FDA marketing authorizations and Medicare coverage processes. The report advocated the formation of an interagency task force to explore coverage of digital health technologies and the creation of a public-private partnership to support the use and dissemination of these technologies. Advamed’s president and CEO, Scott Whitaker, said in an Oct. 2 statement that the CMS “has demonstrated incredible leadership facilitating access to telehealth technologies and other innovations” during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Whitaker said the agency “must continue to move forward and eliminate bureaucratic obstacles so that patients can be best served by digital health technologies.”

HHS, Rockefeller Foundation team up on testing

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it has signed an agreement with the Rockefeller Foundation to develop approaches to the use of rapid point-of-care tests for the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on reopening primary and secondary schools. The agreement includes a pilot program with cities and states that are members of the Rockefeller’s Testing Solutions Group for scaling up testing and track-and-trace efforts in those communities. HHS will provide 12,000 Abbott Binaxnow tests for deployment in four cities, including Los Angeles, and one state, Rhode Island. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health at HHS, said the pilot program will generate real-world evidence and identify best practices for testing for K-12 students and teachers. Giroir also said the pilot “will inform states and territories on how to develop their own roadmaps for safely keeping children in the classroom, which is critical for their physical, emotional, mental, and developmental health."