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The continues battle to overcome telehealth coverage challenges for Medicare beneficiaries is looking brighter…. For the first time in many years the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is entertaining the budget effects of telehealth bills like the CHRONIC Care Act and CONNECT for Health Act.

May 18, 2017 Source American Medicine Association

This week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored an important piece of telehealth legislation, the CHRONIC Care Act (S. 870), and concluded that the bill would not increase or decrease Medicare spending.  The bill, introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) includes four provisions intended to expand telehealth coverage under Medicare:  nationwide coverage for telestroke, home remote patient monitoring for dialysis therapy, enhanced telehealth coverage for ACOs, and more flexibility for telehealth coverage under Medicare Advantage plans.  In fact CBO stated that expanding telehealth to the home for Medicare dialysis treatment would be budget neutral.

This is the first time that CBO has scored telemedicine legislation since 2001.  In fact, the 2001 legislation created the longstanding barriers for Medicare telehealth coverage now known as 1834(m) in the Social Security Act.  At a Senate Finance Committee hearing this week, Senators Schatz and Wicker, as well as Partners Healthcare, UPMC, and Montefiore Health System testified in support of the bill and other Medicare enhancements for telehealth coverage.  The bill is being marked up by the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, May 18th.

What’s next? Keep the momentum going and join your fellow ATA members who have already used our new online advocacy tool to reach out to 50 Senators in 25 states asking them to support progressive telehealth bills like the CHRONIC Care Act and the CONNECT for Health Act, (S. 1016).  With increasing national attention to telehealth related issues this is the most effective way to educate Members of Congress and push for important policy goals like improvements in Medicare coverage of telehealth. There is potential for telehealth to have as much momentum in Congress as it does in the states, and ATA needs YOU to be part of these efforts.

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