Medicare Telehealth Parity Act Introduced in the House
Bipartisan bill would expand telehealth services covered under Medicare
August 7, 2014 04:43 PM
Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Gregg Harper (R-MS) introduced the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act (H.R. 5380) prior to Congress adjourning for its August recess. If enacted, this bipartisan proposal would expand telehealth in a series of three phases.
Phase one expands telehealth services under Medicare for video conferencing and technologies known as store-and-forward which allows clinical information such as videos, data, and x-rays to be stored and then sent to another site for evaluation. This phase expands these services to all federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics and in counties within metropolitan statistical areas with populations less than 50,000. The bill will expand telehealth coverage for certified diabetes educators, speech language therapists, audiologists, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists and physical therapists. The use of remote-patient monitoring for diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will also be incorporated in this phase.
Phase two expands telehealth services under Medicare coverage for video conferencing and store-and-forward technologies in counties located in metropolitan statistical areas with populations of 50,000-100,000. Video conferencing will also extend to a beneficiary’s home for home health services and agencies, durable medical equipment, home dialysis and hospice. Speech language pathology, audiology, respiratory, occupational and physical therapies will also be covered services under this phase.
Phase three expands telehealth services under Medicare for video conferencing and store-and-forward technologies for counties located in metropolitan statistical areas with populations over 100,000.
“Telehealth saves money and helps save lives,” said Rep. Thompson. “By expanding telehealth services, we can make sure the best care and the best treatments are available to all Americans, no matter where they live. I will continue working…to improve access to telehealth services.”
“Telehealth is one of the most promising aspects of the health care field,” said Rep. Harper. “Mississippians, Californians and people all over the country can benefit from an expansion of telehealth services. This is an issue that Congressman Mike Thompson and I have worked on together in the past, and it’s my privilege to help him introduce this bill.”
The American Telemedicine Association (TIA) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) have endorsed the bill, as has the NAHC-affiliated Home Care Technology Association of America.
To read more about H.R. 5380, please click here.