New Measure Proposed to Expand Medicare Coverage for Telehealth

November 2019 ~

In an effort to expand Medicare coverage for telehealth, lawmakers have introduced a new Senate bill, known as the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2019.

Initially introduced in 2016, six senators have reintroduced the bill in hopes of removing roadblocks to telemedicine expansion in Medicare by allowing providers more freedom to experiment with telehealth in alternative payment models and incentive programs as well as expand remote patient monitoring programs for chronic care, remote and underserved populations.

The bill’s chief sponsor, Senator Brian Schatz, said in a press release, “Telehealth is the future of healthcare. It expands access to care, lowers costs and helps more people stay healthy. Our bipartisan bill will help change the way patients get the care they need, improving the healthcare system for both patients and healthcare providers.”

The bill incorporates five primary goals:

  1. Build on provisions in the recently-reintroduced Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017 to expand telehealth platforms in accountable care organizations and Medicare Advantage, as well as a patient undergoing home dialysis and stroke treatment programs;
  2. Expand remote patient monitoring programs for people with chronic conditions;
  3. Expand telehealth and RPM programs at community health centers and rural clinics, as well as for Native American populations, and integrate the technology into bundled and global payment programs;
  4. Give the Health and Human Services Department the authority to lift restrictions on telehealth – including geographic limitations, originating site restrictions, reimbursement limitations and restrictions on the use of store-and-forward technology – when quality and cost-effectiveness criteria are met; and
  5. Expand the use of telemental health services.

Patrice A. Harris, M.D., AMA president, said about the bill, “Increased access to telehealth is urgently needed to help meet the health needs of the swiftly changing demographics of our senior population. The CONNECT for Health Act’s expansion of telehealth coverage in the Medicare program also will spur increased investment and innovation in delivery redesign to benefit all patients.”

Source(s): FierceHealthcare; mHealth Intelligence;