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Health IT Now Urges Telehealth Expansion in Year-End Medicare Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC (November 6, 2017): Health IT Now – a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers supporting health information technology to improve patient outcomes – wrote to House and Senate leadership urging the adoption of language to expand access to telehealth enabled services in year-end Medicare legislation. 

In its letter to Senate leadership, HITN specifically advocates for the inclusion of provisions in the CHRONIC Care Act of 2017including language allowing Medicare Advantage plans to offer telehealth services in their basic bids, which HITN seeks to make effective in 2019. HITN also urges the inclusion of language from Sen. Brian Schatz’ (D-HI) bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act

In separate correspondence to House leadership, HITN urges the adoption of telehealth policies found in the Increasing Telehealth Access in Medicare Act, which would allow Medicare Advantage plans to fully utilize telehealth services, as well as the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act 2017, and H.R. 3164 (no title), which would improve access to home dialysis therapy. As in its letter to Senate leadership, HITN seeks to make the expansion of telehealth services in Medicare Advantage plans effective in 2019; a year earlier than stipulated in the original legislation. 

HITN noted in both letters that “Medicare lags the majority of other health payers – including Medicaid, the private sector, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program – in covering and reimbursing for telehealth enabled services,” adding that including these provisions in year-end Medicare legislation “will allow healthcare providers to more effectively deliver care when and where patients need it.” 

HITN Executive Director Joel White released the following statement: 

“We know that Congress is poised to take up sweeping, must-pass legislative packages in both chambers at the end of the year – likely rolling a number of Medicare extenders into a single bill,” said HITN Executive Director Joel White“As lawmakers work to continue these key benefits of Medicare, they must not miss this opportunity to also enact reforms that bring the program into the 21st century – staying competitive with the rest of the marketplace so that seniors are not getting shortchanged. The policies we seek to include in year-end Medicare legislation enjoy broad, bipartisan support and, in many cases, have received a vote of confidence from lawmakers already. We look forward to working with our health IT champions on the Hill to ensure these commonsense solutions make it across the finish line before year’s end.” 

Read HITN’s letter to House leadership HERE.
Read HITN’s letter to Senate leadership HERE
 

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About Health IT Now: Health IT Now (HITN) is a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers that support incentives to deploy health information technology to improve care, patient outcomes, and to lower costs. Learn more at www.healthitnow.org.

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