WellCare’s Staywell Health Plan Offers Behavioral Health Care via Telehealth to Increase Access, Convenience and Engagement for Its Florida Medicaid Members

Through its relationship with IMPOWER, an Orlando-based nonprofit mental health and child well-being organization, Staywell members are able to have video conference sessions with clinicians using a computer or tablet from the comfort of their own homes. This convenient option eliminates the time and cost associated with traveling to appointments and missed work or school. If medication is needed, it can be delivered directly to members’ homes, in some cases within 24 hours.

Until this month, IMPOWER was the only behavioral health organization in Florida with permission from the state for its providers to prescribe controlled substances for the treatment of mental illness to telehealth members. The Florida Board of Medicine recently updated its telemedicine regulations to allow other telehealth providers to also prescribe under the right conditions.

Jennifer Castro, 41, of Davenport, is a big proponent of telehealth. She and her 14-year-old son, Angel, are Staywell members.

After the unexpected death of his father, Angel, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, withdrew even further. He stopped eating and didn’t want to go to school. Castro got him the behavioral health care he needed, and persuaded him to give telehealth a try.

“It was hard to convince him, but he loves his therapist now,” Castro said. “It’s been helping. You can see it on his face. His self-esteem is improving big time.”

Castro, who works as a preschool teacher at a daycare center, also appreciates the convenience and savings. She doesn’t miss the hour-long drive to his appointments, or the cost of gas and food breaks along the way. Now Angel just takes the family laptop into his room for his appointments.

“Offering convenient treatment options to help our members get the care they need is critical to maintaining health and well-being,” said Julie Harmon, WellCare of Florida’s director of product operations – behavioral health. “Telehealth is a very convenient option that increases access to care, especially for those who live in rural areas and busy families juggling work and school schedules.”

“IMPOWER has been the pioneer in utilizing telehealth for psychiatric and therapy services in Florida,” said Anna M. Baznik, IMPOWER’s president and CEO. “From the onset of our contract with WellCare, we have been strategic partners to both pilot test and implement our platform in Central Florida and soon statewide.”

IMPOWER entered the telehealth arena due to a lack of available psychiatrists in the state, Baznik said, and quickly saw the benefits for members in improved access to care. Through telehealth, she said, members can get almost immediate access to a clinician versus traditional appointments, which can carry a three-month wait list.

“We are working to change the face of mental illness and improve outcomes,” she said. “Our partnership with WellCare has been key to our success thus far.”

For more information about IMPOWER, visit http://www.impowerfl.org/who-we-are/.

As of Dec. 31, 2015, WellCare serves approximately 781,000 Medicaid members, 55,000 Florida Healthy Kids members, 107,000 Medicare Advantage members and 39,000 Medicare Prescription Drug Plan members in Florida.

About WellCare Health Plans, Inc.
Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) focuses exclusively on providing government-sponsored managed care services, primarily through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex medical needs. The Company serves approximately 3.8 million members nationwide as of Dec. 31, 2015. For more information about WellCare, please visit the Company’s website at www.wellcare.com or view the company’s videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/WellCareHealthPlan.

House Lawmakers Unveil Bill To Boost Telehealth Coverage

We are following a story that was reported on iHealthBeat.org that said that a bipartisan group of House lawmakers last week introduced a bill (HR 3306) that aims to expand telehealth coverage through Medicare and Medicaid.

The Telehealth Enhancement Act of 2013 was introduced by Reps. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

Among other things, the legislation would:

  • Adjust Medicare home health payments to account for remote patient monitoring;
  • Expand telehealth coverage to all critical access and sole community hospitals;
  • Cover home-based video services for hospice care, home dialysis and homebound Medicare beneficiaries; and
  • Allow state Medicaid programs to set up high-risk pregnancy networks.

The bill has been referred to the House committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means. – To see more go to  iHealthBeat.org.


ACA Creates ‘Perfect Storm’ for Potential Telemedicine Success

Telemedicine could prove instrumental in helping to keep healthcare costs stable as the Affordable Care Act takes hold, according to Mario Gutierrez, executive director for the Center for Connected Health Policy.

Gutierrez, who talked with Time about the potential for a mainstream breakthrough for telemedicine, said that as more and more patients obtain coverage, doctors subsequently will be stretched thin.

Last week, Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) introduced the TELEmedicine for MEDicare (TELE-MED) Act to the House, which would allow Medicare providers to treat patients electronically across state lines without having to obtain multiple state medical licenses.

See the full story at FierceHealthIT.com



Bill Seeking To Boost Medicare Telehealth Introduced in House

A bill (HR 3077) introduced this week in the House would allow Medicare providers to treat patients across state lines using telehealth technology without having to obtain medical licenses in multiple states, FierceHealthIT reports.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) — sponsor of the bill, called the Telemedicine for Medicare Act — said the measure accounts “for rapid technological advances in medicine” and reduces “bureaucratic and legal barriers between Medicare patients and their doctors.”

See the full story at iHealtBeat.org

S.C. Blues Plan Makes Major Initial Move Into Telemedicine, Covers Three Specialties

Health insurers armed with data to show that telemedicine can increase access to quality medical care and reduce costs by preventing unnecessary emergency room visits are gradually shifting coverage policies to allow reimbursement in selected specialties. A case in point is in South Carolina, where the state’s leading insurer by market share, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, in mid-August said it would start to cover telemedicine for use in high-risk pregnancies, strokes and mental health.

Other insurers already have taken steps to cover telehealth or telemedicine services.

Still, the change in policy by the South Carolina Blues plan is a major breakthrough that should lead to even more inroads for telemedicine in the state, says Jim Ritchie, executive director of the South Carolina Alliance of Health Plans.

See the full story at AISHealth.com

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Awards $28.8 Million TeleHealth Contract to AMC Health

AMC Health, a leading provider of telehealth solutions, announced September 4, that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has awarded the company a five-year contract worth up to $28.8 million to provide telehealth solutions and services.

AMC Health’s integrated approach to remote monitoring will further enhance the VA’s existing telehealth initiatives to reduce hospital admissions; allow veterans with chronic diseases to live independently in their own homes; expand access to care; improve veterans’ clinical outcomes and quality of life; boost patient satisfaction; and enhance the quality, continuity, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of care for veterans nationwide. This agreement marks a major expansion of AMC Health’s Government Services divisio

Read the full story at AMCHealth.com

Teladoc Acquires Consult A Doctor, Expands Service Offerings and Member Base

DALLAS, Texas) Sept. 4, 2013 – Teladoc, the nation’s first and largest telehealth provider with more than 6 million members, announced today the acquisition of Consult A Doctor, a telehealth company founded in 2007. With this acquisition, individuals and employees of small- to medium-size businesses will now have access to Teladoc’s national network of U.S. board-certified, state-licensed physicians for consults.

Teladoc’s acquisition of Consult A Doctor allows the company to expand its unique service offerings and continue to grow and bring innovative solutions to the marketplace.

Read the full story at TeleDoc.com

Aetna And Consult A Doctor™ Come Together As A 24/7 Telemedicine And Work Life Service

HARTFORD, Conn., June 19, 2012 — Aetna’s (NYSE: AET) work life platform Aetna Resources For Living has been combined with the Consult A Doctor™ 24/7 telemedicine service to provide employees with easier access to resources that help improve overall health, work/life balance and workplace productivity. Consult A Doctor Plus™ is a unique, on-demand solution that also allows employers to better manage health care costs by providing members with the help and support they need – where, when and how they need it.

Consult A Doctor Plus (CADR+) enables consumers to contact physicians, either by phone or email, for specific questions they may have. This product provides members with a variety of benefits, including:

  • Confidential 24/7 telephonic consultation and prescription-writing.
  • Access to Aetna Resources for Living work life resources and support.
  • Patient advocacy bill review/mediation, provided by The Karis Group.
  • Access to online wellness tools and health records.
  • Legal and financial consulting.

“We are pleased to work with Providence Financial Group to provide those in need with support and services in all areas of physical, emotional, psychological and social well-being,” said Louise Murphy, head of Aetna Behavioral Health. “Aetna Resources For Living is a suite of offerings designed to engage people in addressing lifestyle issues and workplace stresses by providing a comfortable and safe environment for our members. This platform together with Consult A Doctor creates a concrete combination of medical and work life services.”

Powered by TeleCare 3.0, Consult A Doctor provides customized versions of its telemedicine platform to meet the needs of all the major constituents in healthcare, including practices, hospitals, clinics, health plans and employers.

“With Consult A Doctor Plus, we are able to work hand-in-hand with Aetna to reach beyond traditional, primary care settings and explore new opportunities within the telemedicine spectrum of health care,” said Wolf Shlagman, founder and CEO, Consult A Doctor. “We are excited to provide employers with a faster, more convenient and affordable resource that gives members access to such services anytime and anywhere.”

About Providence Financial Group

Providence Financial Group (PFG) is a sales and marketing organization of industry-leading financial products and services, marketed primarily through contracted agents and brokers.
PFG is an authorized representative of both Aetna Behavioral Health and Consult A Doctor, and Reseller/Administrator of the Consult A Doctor Plus program. For more information please visitwww.pfgef.com or contact us at www.pfgef.com/contact.

About Consult A Doctor
Consult A Doctor is the leading innovator of cloud-based telemedicine services and technology platform solutions empowering organizations to lower healthcare costs, provide revolutionary access and improve outcomes. With years of experience delivering direct-to-employer and consumer telemedicine services that offer convenient 24/7 access to doctor consultations by phone, email and video, Consult a Doctor has saved employers millions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare costs, and added millions of dollars of productivity to the bottom line by helping keep employees at work and healthy. Its telemedicine network of U.S. board certified physicians in all 50 states has made it possible to give on-demand care, anytime, anywhere with access to care in the lowest cost setting. Consult A Doctor is further transforming the economic equation of care by partnering with payers, providers and other organizations to deploy its telemedicine platform solution that grants its members and patients unmatched access to quality care, offers a new revenue source for providers, and lowers costs for health plans, employers and groups. For more information about Consult A Doctor, please visit www.consultadr.com, emailtelecare@consultadr.com or call 888-688-DOCT (3628).

About Aetna
Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.1 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services and health information technology services. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com.