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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Senate Finance Bill Would Expand Telehealth in Medicare

November 3, 2016 | Medicare | Comments
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A draft bill out of the Senate Finance Committee would expand payments from Medicare for telehealth and telemedicine services. The CHRONIC Care Act draft, long in the works by the Committee, improves chronic disease care for Medicare beneficiaries and would include provisions to expand access to telehealth services for Medicare Advantage enrollees.

The CHRONIC Care Act draft would allow Medicare Advantage plans to include additional, clinically appropriate, telehealth benefits in their capitated rate. The draft would also waive Medicare’s restrictive geographic requirements for some Accountable Care Organizations, allowing patients to receive telemedicine visits at their homes. The draft bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to solicit public comments to determine the types of telehealth services that should be included as a part of these expanded benefits.

As it is currently drafted, any movement of the legislation would require the development of bipartisan, multi-million dollar offsets. While Committee staff remain hopeful about advancing the legislation during the lame duck session at the end of the year, it is more likely that the final legislation will be released in November and will serve as the basis for a bill that could move in 2017.