Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
Telehealth can be a convenient and potentially life-saving service, especially for patients who live in remote areas. However, the overall cost is not necessarily cheaper, according to NPR. In a study published in Health Affairs, investigators found that the total annual spending—–defined as cost to insurers and out-of-pocket payments by patients––was $45 more per patient for individuals who used telehealth to treat acute respiratory illnesses compared with patients who saw a physician in person for the same conditions. Eighty-eight percent of telehealth visits account for patients who would not have normally went to a physician. The investigators concluded that only 12% of the telehealth sessions amounted to a substitute for visiting a physician. Study author Lori Uscher-Pines said in the report that most of the participants who chose virtual appointments may have stuck to home remedies if telehealth was not available. However, the authors noted that patients who receive advice via a virtual appointment may be more likely to be scheduled for an in-person follow up appointment, which results in an increase in cost for treating that illness, according to the report.
On Friday, House Republicans failed to gain enough support to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), according to Kaiser Health News. The bill was pulled from consideration by House Speaker Paul Ryan after he informed President Donald Trump that the did not meet the 216 votes required for passage. Trump placed the blame on Democrats, saying they were unwilling to help Republicans on the measure, and further warned that the Affordable Care Act insurance markets are in danger. During a news conference, when Ryan was pressed on what happens to the federal health law, he said, “Obamacare is the law of the land. We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
After the ACA replacement plan was killed on Friday, lawmakers and some senior White House officials have appealed for bipartisanship. The defeat has created an opening for voices in both parties to be heard in regards to fixing some of the problems with the ACA. However, the White House is still reeling from the defeat and appears to be uncertain on the path forward, according to The New York Times.