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News of Otsego County

medicare

DOHNER: Where Was Trump In Virtual Medicine?
LETTER from ERIC DOHNER

Where Was Trump

In Virtual Medicine?

To the Editor:

In his column, “Life in the Time of Covid-19,” Richard Sternberg forgets to credit the person responsible for making Medicare, Medicaid and all insurers pay for virtual visits – Donald Trump.

The former president also required the states to accept virtual doctor visits across state lines, which was a huge stumbling block for online medical care.

ERIC DOHNER
Binghamton

STERNBERG: The Doctor Will View You Now

LETTER from RICHARD STERNBERG

The Doctor Will View You Now

erna
Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

On a recent morning, I had a first visit/consultation with a physician from Columbia-Presbyterian in New York City. In going to the city and back to Cooperstown, Columbia presents a special challenge to me.

It is a difficult facility to maneuver through under fully normal conditions and these times aren’t normal. It would have required driving about four hours each way and maybe even an overnight stay. Both the physician and I chose to do a telemedicine visit.

Most of you already know about telemedicine.

It was starting to be used by patients who had to travel long distances to see a doctor, especially if there was a satellite clinic where the transmission could be accommodated. Now, with the advent of multiple video options, the patient can be anywhere, from home to half the world away.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns, many large practices, including hospital-based ones, decided video and telephone appointments were better than nothing. What they found out was that many times they were equal, if not better, than an in-person visit.

Probably the one thing holding back telemedicine use was the refusal of insurers, especially Medicare and Medicaid, to pay for such visits. These visits take the same, if not occasionally more, of the physician’s or mid-level provider’s time. Reimbursement, when given, was less than the equivalent amount of time for an office visit.

With the onset of COVID, insurers were forced to accept the value of telemedicine, given the lack of options if as many people were to be seen as before the pandemic. As an emergency measure, tele-visits were being approved. They still are, even when an in-person option exists.

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