New Telehealth Bill Receives Bipartisan, Bicameral Support in Congress
Legislation that will expand telehealth services in Medicare was introduced in both chambers of Congress this week. The bill – the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technology (CONNECT) for Health Act – aims to improve care outcomes, make it easier for patients to connect with their providers, and help cut costs to patients and providers alike. The wide-reaching legislation would loosen historically restrictive Medicare policies around telehealth that have imposed great barriers to patients’ access to needed treatment.
“Telehealth is the future of health care. It saves money and improves health outcomes,” said coauthor of the bill, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). “Our bipartisan bill puts us on a path to transform health care delivery, making it less costly and more convenient for patients and providers.”
The CONNECT for Health Act is a bipartisan approach to increase the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring through Medicare. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Create a program to help providers expand access to treatment for patients in need through the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM);
- Expand the use of RPM for certain patients with chronic conditions;
- Increase telehealth and RPM services in community health centers and rural health clinics; and
- Make telehealth and RPM basic benefits in Medicare Advantage.
“I am proud that Mississippi is a national leader in telehealth. We have improved access, cut costs and increased health care for patients in all corners of our State,” said Senator Thad Cochran (R-MI). “These achievements are possible because of our statewide telehealth reimbursement laws. The legislation we are introducing will apply the lessons we’ve learned in Mississippi to the entire nation to improve patient access to health care providers and to save taxpayer dollars.”
“As a registered nurse, I am proud to introduce the House companion to this critical legislation that will expand access to life-saving technologies for beneficiaries across the country, particularly those in rural communities like those found across my district. Medical innovation and technology is at the forefront of today’s health care system, and it is vital that the Medicare program embrace these advances to ensure quality, affordable care remains available to our nation’s seniors,” said Representative Diane Black (R-TN).
Authors of this bill include: Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Roger Wicker (R-MI), Thad Cochran (R-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Thune (R-SD), and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Representatives Diane Black (R-TN), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Gregg Harper (R-MI).