REPS. MIKE THOMPSON, GREGG HARPER INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO EXPAND TELEHEALTH SERVICES
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Gregg Harper (R-MS) today introduced bipartisan legislation to expand telehealth services under Medicare. The bill, titled the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014 puts telehealth services under Medicare on the path toward parity with in-person health care visits.
“Telehealth saves money and helps save lives,” said 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 am proud to be introducing this bill with my friend and colleague Gregg Harper, and I will continue working with him to improve access to telehealth services.”
“Telehealth is one of the most promising aspects of the health care field,” said 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 Medicare Telehealth Parity Act expands telehealth in a series of three phases.
"We fully support this effort to improve healthcare access and affordability using telecommunications technology," said Jonathan Linkous, chief executive officer of the American Telemedicine Association. "These cost-saving provisions are critical to improve telehealth coverage and extend care to millions of Americans.”
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.
The Medicare Telehealth Parity Act is endorsed by the American Telemedicine Association and the Telecommunications Industry Association.
The legislation has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.
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