Resilient Region – request to look at reimbursement parity for telehealth

I wanted to share the following – an impassioned request from the Resilient Region to the Minnesota Broadband Task Force…

On behalf of the Resilient Region theme champions and the public/private health care providers working with us on the telehealth project funded by the Blandin Foundation, I wish to share our request to have the Governor’s Broadband Task Force consider looking into the issues of Reimbursement Parity for Telehealth, Interstate Licensure, and Tele-Home Monitoring. 

August 18, 2014
Dear Senator Klobuchar, Senator Franken, and Members of the Governor’s Broadband Task Force,
On behalf of the Region V Virtual Highway Taskforce, we are asking you to resolve the following issues surrounding telehealth, in order to provide more effective and efficient healthcare services in our rural areas:
Reimbursement Parity for Telehealth – The list of eligible licensed medical and healthcare professionals should be expanded to include many more licensed providers who are able to effectively use telehealth to deliver timely, more convenient, and more cost-effective health services, including Certified Diabetic Educator RNs, speech pathologists, genetic counselors, audiologists and rehab therapists. We support that these changes be made at a federal level under Medicare, but also it is our hope that they will also be mandated by the State of Minnesota for MN Care, as well as all private insurers.
Interstate Licensure: The State of Minnesota should allow providers to practice telehealth  across state lines without going through the months of licensure currently required, in order to expand the options for telehealth services.  Many of our neighboring states already offer licensure reciprocity.
Tele-Home Monitoring: Home Health Monitoring services reduce hospital readmissions, and help people living with chronic diseases remain healthier in their homes.  An example of this is using the daily readings to prevent an episode of illness and the need for emergency care. This might include the medical provider working with a home care nurse adding an additional water pill dosage when weight gain is detected through daily weight readings.  This will decrease fluid retention in congestive heart failure patients.  Another example is observing the elderly administering daily insulin in order to allow the person to remain independent at home longer.  These services should therefore also be covered by Medicare, Medical Assistance, and other insurance plans.
Broadband infrastructure: We applaud the efforts made at the state and federal level to eliminate the digital divide and ensure broadband is available to all citizens, as this is necessary for telehealth services, including the last mile to the home.   We encourage you to continue with your hard work in ensuring that no rural home or farm is left behind.
Who are we? We are a community-driven, public, private, nonprofit, citizen, partnership that successfully engaged more than 600 individual in developing a multi-discipline, region-wide vision for the five county region of Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena. The 18-month planning process, supported by HUD/DOT/EPA Sustainable Communities Project, earned us the status of “high-achieving grantee,” and led to the development of a comprehensive regional plan 
Today, over 46 individuals (from the public and private sectors), the “Resilient Region Champions,” are now actively leading the implementation of the plans developed during this process (see page 3).
The Virtual Highway Task Force includes all the champions listed as well as: Tri-county Hospital; Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation; Community Development of Morrison County; City of Staples Community Development;  Wadena Economic Development Corporation; the Brainerd Lakes Chamber; Good Samaritan Society; Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M-State); Resilient Living Council, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Public and Private Health care providers. We also coordinate our work with the BLAEDC and Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce High-Tech Sector Task Force and the CLC/MNSCU High Tech IT Task Force. We have letters of support for our work to help seniors age in place from: Commissioner Mary Tingerthal (Minnesota Housing Fund), Warren Hansen, (CEO, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund – GMHF). We have received a Blandin Foundation telehealth grant, a letter of support from Bernadine Joselyn (Blandin Foundation), and the loan of their broadband expert, Bill Coleman.
We represent 40,500 (seasonal and year-round) residents, 24,877 K-12 students (49% eligible for free or reduced school lunches), more than 401,605 northbound cars loaded with visitors (continuous traffic monitors August 2009), and 11,252 home-based businesses who generate $407,786,000 in revenue for the five-county region (Crow Wing and Cass Counties: Census 2010 and Morrison, Todd and Wadena Counties: ACS 2007). Advocates for improved broadband access come from ALL local units of government within the region (65 Cities & 5 Counties); hundreds of private sector companies; 27 school districts’, 2 community colleges (CLC and Minnesota STATE Community Technical College) and the 600 residents who worked on the creation of the regions “Resilient Region Plan”.
If you would like to contact us regarding these issues, please contact our Connectivity/Virtual Highway Project Director – Dr. Stacey Stockdill at
Resilient Region Theme Champions CHAMPION CHAIR: Tim Houle, Administrator, Crow Wing County  EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT Dr. Larry Lundblad (President) Central Lake College (CLC) Craig Nathan (Regional Director) Rural MN CEP Dr. Chad Coauette (Executive Director) National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) Cheryal Lee Hills (Executive Director) Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) Monty Johnson, Senior Dean, Minnesota State Community & Technical College (M-State)  EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS Don Hickman (Vice President) Initiative Foundation Andrea Lauer, Mayor of Royalton Mel Radermacher (Controller of External Affairs and Member Services) R5DC Anna Gruber, City/County Manager, NJPA
TRANSPORTATION Tim Houle, (Engineer) Widseth, Smith, Nolting Jarrett Leas (Engineer) Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson Tad Erickson (Community & Economic Development Planner) R5DC
ECONOMIC ENGINES Greg Bergman (Director) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Rick Utech (Executive Director) Todd County Economic Development Corporation Vicki  Chepulis (Grants Coordinator) Five Wings Arts Council Arlene Jones (Owner/Operator) The Farm on St. Mathias (Manager) SPROUT Food Hub
CONNECTIVITY Pam Mahling (Corporate Resource Specialist) West Central Telephone Association (WCTA) Kevin Larson (CEO) Kristi Westbrock (COO) Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) Janelle Riley (CEO) Syvantis Technologies Stacey Stockdill, (CEO) EnSearch, Inc. Sally Fineday (Wireless Telecommunications Business Manager) Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Paul Drange, (Director of Regional Programs) National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) Janet Johnson, (Instructor) Minnesota State Community & Technical College (M-State)
ENERGY Bob Schaefer (Retired)  & Keith Olander (Associate Dean of Agriculture) Central Lakes College (CLC) Jason Edens (President) Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) Molly Zins (Executive Director) University of Minnesota Sustainable Development Partnership Sarah Hayden (Coordinator) Central Clean Energy Resource Team (CERTs)
HEALTHCARE Jani Wiebolt (retired COO) Essentia SJMC Tim Rice (CEO) Lakewood Health System John Solheim (CEO) & Amy Hart (COO) Cuyuna Regional Medical Center Bob McLean (COO/GM) Hunt Utilities Group Adam Rees (CEO) & Mike Larson (COO) Essentia Health Gwen Anderson, (Health and Social Services Division Manager) Crow Wing County
AFFORDABLE HOUSING/HOUSING Lynn Hunt (Chair of the Board) Resilient Living Council Jennifer Bergman (Executive Director) Brainerd HRA Colleen Faacks (Executive Director) Mid-MN Builders Association Janie Weston (Executive Director) Greater Lakes Association of Realtors Deanna Hemmesch (Executive Director) Central Minnesota Housing Partnership Amy Hunt McLain (Board) Resilient Living Council
CHANGING POPULATIONS Mary Sam (Director of Intercultural Services/Diversity/Tribal Relations) Central Lakes College (CLC) DeAnn Barry (Executive Director) Brainerd Lakes Area Senior Center Dean Loidolt (Community Service Developer) Central Minnesota Council on Aging (CMCOA) Dan Frank (Community Specialist) Initiative Foundation
NATURAL RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS Todd Holman (Program Director)The Nature Conservancy John Sumption (President) Sumption Environmental Phil Hunsicker, Author – Conservation Design Score Card


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About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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