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Telehealth Use Among Safety-Net Organizations in California During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are outpatient health centers that provide comprehensive primary care to 30 million low-income individuals.1 When the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic began in March 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) granted flexibilities to FQHCs to furnish video and telephone (audio only) visits to patients at any location. Pandemic-related regulatory waivers led to a substantial increase in telehealth across the health care system.2

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Lori Uscher-Pines, PhD, MSc, RAND Corporation, 1200 S Hayes St, Arlington, VA 22202 (luscherp@rand.org).

Accepted for Publication: January 11, 2021.

Published Online: February 2, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.0282

Author Contributions: Dr Uscher-Pines had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Uscher-Pines, Sousa, Jones, Whaley, Perrone, Ober.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Uscher-Pines, Sousa, Whaley, Ober.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Whaley, McCullough, Ober.

Obtained funding: Uscher-Pines, Ober.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Sousa, Jones, Perrone.

Supervision: Uscher-Pines, McCullough.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Whaley reported receiving grants from the National Institute on Aging. Mr Perrone reported receiving personal fees from and being employed by the California Health Care Foundation. No other disclosures were reported.

Funding/Support: This work was supported by grant G-31038 from the California Health Care Foundation.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The California Health Care Foundation was involved in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, and approval of the manuscript; but was not involved in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

References
1.
Health Resources and Services Administration. 2019 national health center data. Accessed December 2, 2020. https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/data-reporting/program-data/national
2.
Verma  S . Early impact of CMS expansion of Medicare telehealth during COVID-19. Health Affairs Blog. Accessed December 2, 2020. https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20200715.454789/full/
3.
Health Resources and Services Administration. Uniform Data System resources. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://bphc.hrsa.gov/datareporting/reporting/index.html
4.
California Department of Health Care Services. Telehealth definitions. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.dhcs.ca.gov/provgovpart/Pages/telehealthdefinitions.aspx
5.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Telemedicine. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/telemedicine/index.html
6.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Proposed policy, payment, and quality provisions changes to the Medicare physician fee schedule for calendar year 2021. Accessed December 2, 2020. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/proposed-policy-payment-and-quality-provisions-changes-medicare-physician-fee-schedule-calendar-year-4
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