Short takes: Medicare telehealth flexibilities may extend; ‘no interest’ in Transcarent sale; NeueHealth ekes out positive net income; Cigna and Oscar break up; DocGo, Ascension cyberattacked (updated)

Two-year extension of telehealth flexibilities advances in Congress. A small telehealth victory was notched in the House, where the powerful Ways and Means Committee passed the Preserving Telehealth, Hospital, and Ambulance Access Act by a vote of 41-0. The bill would extend many of the Medicare and Federal program telehealth waivers and flexibilities established during the pandemic to the end of 2026. It is now expected that the House will bring the bill to the floor for a full House vote in the fall session. Ways and Means’ jurisdiction is over most financial and revenue-raising Federal measures, such as taxation, Social Security, and Medicare. Highlights of the bill:

  • Geographic and originating-site waivers
  • Ability for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) to continue to furnish telehealth services
  • Expanded list of eligible Medicare providers, allowing physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and audiologists to render telehealth services
  • Ability to offer audio-only services
  • Repeal of telemental health in-person requirement
  • Preservation of the Acute Hospital Care at Home Program through CY2029

Parts are controversial, such as the telemental in-person requirement, hospice recertification, and guardrails around durable medical equipment (DME) and clinical diagnostics requiring reports to prevent fraud, waste and abuse. The bill did not include remote prescribing of controlled substances. Expect further markups to be made before passage in the House, later in the Senate, and the joint bill. The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) applauded the bill with the main caveat being around telehealth controlled substance prescribing. Full text, FierceHealthcare, ATA release

Glen Tullman rules out a sale of Transcarent–but not an IPO. On the heels of a substantial $126 million in Series D funding and a  jumbo $2.2 billion valuation [TTA 8 May], Transcarent’s CEO Tullman, in an interview with MedCityNews, stated that he had “no interest” in selling the company. Transcarent is already run “like a public company”, has a strong leadership team already in place, and “we’ll make any exit decisions for the right reasons.” Mr. Tullman has already run four public companies and IPO’d three: CCC Information Systems (in auto insurance), Livongo, Allscripts (now Veradigm), and Enterprise Systems. Livongo was sold to Teladoc in 2020, with consequences. Veradigm, the former Allscripts, went public in 1999–25 years ago in a vastly different world. Their big bet in enterprise health navigation is now on AI for both physicians and members.

Back to the New Reality, Bizarro World edition. NeueHealth, which is achieving a world record in Dodging Disaster while paying out leadership bonuses, eked out a decent Q1. The former Bright Health Group managed to squeak out revenue of $245.1 million, operational net income of $5.7 million, and an adjusted EBITDA of $2.5 million compared to a Q1 2023 loss of $5.7 million. This doesn’t mean it was profitable because its net income for Q1 was a negative $28.5 million. Revenue dropped by 18%–$55 million–compared to Q1 2023. New Enterprise Associates (NEA) must be pleased, as they are now 60% owner of the operation with another loan of $30 million secured by penny warrants [TTA 16 Apr]. The full year guidance was reaffirmed at $1 billion in revenue with 70% coming from its NeueSolutions business (their management services for ACOs and IPAs), and adjusted EBITDA between $15 million and $25 million. What remains, of course, are the UXBs–the problems with their financial reporting as noted in their 2023 results and that ever-so-nasty $400 million in payments due to CMS in March 2025, as well as to Texas on their exited ACA plans. But NeueHealth has played both ends against the middle and tied up creditors in Gordian knots for a couple of years, so why not keep on keepin’ on for now? Release, earnings call transcript, FierceHealthcare   TTA 5 April

The much-touted partnership of big Cigna and insurtech Oscar Health is breaking up. The Cigna + Oscar joint program covers the small group business. As of the end of Q1, it had 61,428 members enrolled. The program, which had no forecast of profitability, will end in 2025. CEO Mark Bertolini’s statement was rather forceful in this regard. Oscar is shifting to marketing ICHRA, or individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements that permit small businesses to offer employees individual health plans subsidized by employer contributions. Cigna will continue to offer plans for the small and midsize group market. Becker’s

Cyberattacks strike DocGo, Ascension Health. DocGo reported a data breach in its 7 May Form 8-K filed with the SEC. It involved a limited but unspecified amount of protected health information (PHI) of patients using its ambulance services, but was confined only to that. No other report of the breach has been made. This followed a positive Q1 report of revenue up to $192.1 million, from $113 million in the same quarter 2023. Net income was $10.6 million versus last year’s net loss of $3.9 million. Adjusted EBITDA went up to $24.1 million versus $5.6 million. DocGo provides telehealth/RPM, mobile urgent care, disease management, and medical transportation services. It recently lost its lucrative but controversial NYC migrant service contract but retains city Health + Hospitals contracts and some smaller housing service contracts. Mobihealthnews Ascension Health, on the other hand, has had a serious disruption in some clinical operations affecting an undisclosed number of hospitals and systems, but was reported in Michigan. On Wednesday, Ascension detected unusual activity in select technology-network systems. They advised business partners to sever connections to their systems and have brought in Mandiant to assist in investigation and remediation efforts. Ascension is one of the largest health systems in the US, with 140 hospitals in 19 states plus the District of Columbia. Healthcare Finance, Detroit Free Press, Ascension website

Ascension Update: Reports since yesterday are now far more exact. Its EHR, MyChart, several systems for ordering tests and medications, plus some phone systems are unavailable across the system. Some appointments and surgeries have been postponed. There are emergency diversions of care in some locations. Ascension’s statements to media has been that ‘downtime procedures’ will be in place ‘for some time’. There is no timeline given for restoration. Becker’s, Healthcare Dive


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