On July 7, 2015, U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson, Gregg Harper, Diane Black, and Peter Welch announced the introduction of a new version of the July 2014 telehealth legislation (H.R. 5380) called the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015 (H.R. 2948) (the “Act”). The Act has already been referred to each of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Ways and Means.
According to Congressman Thompson’s press release, this Act would phase in and expand upon existing telehealth services under Medicare, by, among other changes:
- Removing the geographic barriers under current law and allowing the provision of telehealth services in rural, underserved, and metropolitan areas;
- Expanding the list of providers and related covered service that are eligible to provide telehealth services to include respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and audiologists;
- Allowing remote patient monitoring for patients with chronic conditions such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes; and
- Allowing the beneficiary’s home to serve as a site of care for home dialysis, hospice care, eligible outpatient mental health services, and home health services.
For quite some time reimbursement barriers prevented the expanded use of telehealth/telemedicine under Medicare beyond reimbursement for limited services, limited modes of telehealth, and the “originating site” restriction. Over the last few years, legislation expanding access and reimbursement under Medicare for telemedicine/telehealth services has been introduced, but never passed. This time could be different as the legislation has not only bipartisan support, but also the support of industry groups, including among others, the American Telemedicine Association and the American Heart Association. Stay tuned for additional updates regarding the Act. For further information, contact J. Nicole Martin or any member of Cozen O’Connor’s healthcare law team.