New legislation has been introduced to expand the use of telemedicine through Medicare. Would you use a computer or smartphone to connect to your doctor more?
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators Wednesday are introducing a bill aimed at expanding telemedicine service through Medicare benefits.
“Telehealth is the future of healthcare. It saves money and improves health outcomes,” co-sponsor Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said.
“Our bipartisan bill puts us on a path to transform healthcare delivery, making it less costly and more convenient for patients and providers.”
The bill, called the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act (PDF), would expand the use of remote patient-monitoring for some patients with chronic conditions, increase telemedicine services in community health centers and rural health clinics, and provide basic telemedicine benefits through Medicare Advantage.
According to a news release from Schatz’s office, the bill would have the added benefit of helping providers meet the goals of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.
Avalere last week released a study on the financial benefits of CONNECT.
The study estimates it will provide $1.8 billion in savings to Medicare over a decade.
The CONNECT Act carries the early support of several industry groups, including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Heart Association and Kaiser Permanente.
“This bill would ensure that patients and their physicians are able to use new technologies that remove barriers to timely quality care. Importantly, the bill would maintain high standards whether a patient is seeing a physician in an office or via telemedicine," said Dr. Steven J. Stack, president of the American Medical Association.
U.S. Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.