Telehealth Services

The Issue

To best serve a geographically dispersed population of 540,000 residents in 24 counties and across 11,000 square miles of Northern Lower Michigan, Munson Healthcare utilizes a number of telehealth services. 

Recently, we finished a major 3-year telemedicine grant from the United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Utility Service, which enabled us to purchase 19 telemedicine carts that were deployed across a wide area of Northern Michigan  from Beaver Island to St. Ignace to Houghton Lake.  The uses of these carts include but are not limited to: medical student education, patient consults, sexual abuse consults, high-risk obstetrics cases, telemental health consults, and wound care. 

In addition, Munson Healthcare is currently utilizing telehealth services for the Northern Michigan Bleeding Disorders Clinic, Maternal Fetal Medicine, NICU Echocardiograms, Pediatric Child Abuse Clinic, Thoracic Oncology Tumor Board, Patient Consults, Speech Therapy, Transplant Education, Oncology patient Consults, HIV Clinic, Tele-mental health, Home health, Bariatric education, Pediatric Cardiology, Telepsych, Diabetes education, and Hospice Care.

However, despite the number of telehealth services currently under deployment, Munson Healthcare continues to be limited by current Medicare policy from fully integrating telehealth services as needed.

Our Position 

As the front-line caregivers in the COVID-19 crisis, hospitals and health systems have provided critical healthcare services through the use of technology that connects us to the geographically dispersed population we serve.  We know that telemedicine’s role in providing timely and necessary care to our patients will not end when the national emergency is over.  

What You Can Do

Therefore, we are asking for Congress to permanently eliminate Medicare originating site restrictions as well as allow for the practice of telemedicine across state lines for patients with an established relationship with a provider.

Please consider reaching out to Congress to ask their support for the following bills:

  • The Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2021 (HR 366) is bipartisan legislation that would permanently expand many of the temporary telehealth flexibilities and expansions allowed during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
  • The Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act (HR 708) along with a similar Senate bill (S. 168) is bipartisan legislation that would provide temporary licensing reciprocity for health care professionals in all states for all types of services during designated public health emergency declarations, like the COVID-19 pandemic.