Oct 23, 2013
Press Release
Legislation Helps Save Money, Lives by Expanding Telehealth Coverage and Improving Quality of Care
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced today that he introduced, H.R. 3306, the Telehealth Enhancement Act of 2013, bipartisan legislation to expand telemedicine. By allowing Medicare payments for remote patient monitoring, the bill expands the locations where patients can receive Medicare-covered teleheath services. The bill also gives states the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to include telehealth services for women with high-risk pregnancies. U.S. Reps. Gregg Harper (MS-3-R.), Devin Nunes (CA-22-R), and Peter Welch (VT-D-AL) joined Thompson in introducing the legislation.  

“Telehealth is health care, and it should be a tool in every doctor's toolbox,” said Thompson. “By expanding Medicare and Medicaid telehealth coverage through this legislation, we can make sure more people can get high-quality care no matter where they live or how far away they are from a doctor. Patients and providers want telehealth health, and the reason is simple - it saves money and saves lives. This bill is a big step in the right direction, and we need to keep working until telehealth is an option for everyone.”

Under the Telehealth Enhancement Act, patients will be able to receive Medicare-covered teleheath services at an expanded network of locations such as critical access and sole community hospitals, a patient's home, and/or other locations that are convenient, necessary and appropriate for the care of the patient, such as hospice care, home dialysis and homebound beneficiaries.

States who choose to expand Medicaid coverage to include telehealth will be able to create birthing networks that would allow medical providers to treat conditions such as gestational diabetes and hypertension for women with high-risk pregnancies.  

During his time in the California State Senate Thompson introduced and passed the Telemedicine Development Act of 1996, the foundation of California's robust telehealth system. Thompson's State Senate-passed legislation prohibits private and public insurers from requiring in-person services for services appropriately provided through telemedicine.

Thompson has continued to be a leader on telehealth issues. He has introduced legislation to strengthen and expand telehealth in each of the last three Congresses.

“Studies have shown that telehealth can improve access, reduce costs and improve the quality of healthcare,” said Jonathan Linkous, chief executive officer of the ATA. “To unlock this potential, we need to give health providers the ability to use this technology wherever appropriate. ATA supports this legislation because it takes a sensible approach to move aside government restrictions and allow patients access to health services wherever they are located. Instead of going to the doctor, it allows the doctor to go to the patient.”

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means on which Thompson and Nunes serve, and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on which Harper and Welch serve.

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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