Lawmakers Urged To Expand Medicare Coverage of Telehealth

October 1, 2014 in News

A coalition of groups has sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee calling on lawmakers to increase Medicare coverage for telehealth services under the panel’s “21st Century Cures” initiative, Clinical Innovation Technology ┬áreports.

Details of Letter

The letter was signed by 13 groups, including:

  • The American Telemedicine Association (Pedulli, Clinical Innovation Technology, 10/1);
  • The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society; and
  • The Telecommunications Industry Association (Gold, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 9/29).

The groups wrote that “telehealth and remote patient monitoring should be the cornerstone of a 21st century health care system and should be a covered benefit” (Stakeholders’ letter, 9/26).

Specifically, the groups said that lawmakers should expand Medicare coverage of telehealth services for:

  • Accountable care organizations;
  • Critical access hospitals;
  • Federally qualified health centers (Clinical Innovation Technology, 10/1);
  • Remote monitoring of patients with congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and, for FQHCs, diabetes, with the flexibility for the HHS Secretary to further expand the list of eligible chronic conditions;
  • The bundled payments program; and
  • Video visits and remote monitoring for other beneficiaries, such as home-based kidney dialysis patients.

The stakeholders also urged lawmakers to immediately:

  • Amend the current restrictions for Medicare telehealth service reimbursements from the Social Security Act (Stakeholders’ letter, 9/26); and
  • Request a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the costs and benefits of expanding Medicare coverage of telehealth services during the fourth quarter of 2014 (“Morning eHealth,” Politico, 9/29).
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