The House of Representative has passed a short-term bill that will fund the government through March 23 while also including various provisions that promote aspects of health IT.
The House version of the Continuing Resolution specifically includes: telehealth provisions of S. 870, the “Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017;” H.R. 3120, legislation to ease the “meaningful use burden on providers and reduce the volume of future electronic health record-related significant hardship requests; H.R. 1148, the “Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act of 2017,” which would provide nationwide access to stroke telemedicine treatment in Medicare—currently only available to the most rural, underserved populations; H.R. 3727, the “Increasing Telehealth Access in Medicare Act,” which would allow Medicare Advantage plans to include delivery of telehealth services in a plan’s basic benefits; and H.R. 3164, which would improve access to telehealth-enabled home dialysis therapy among Medicare beneficiaries.
As Healthcare Informatics has previously reported on the CHRONIC Care Act, the legislation has the overarching goal to transform how Medicare works for seniors who suffer from chronic illnesses by including provisions such as expanding access to telehealth services. Currently, there are several restrictions regarding reimbursement for telehealth services under Medicare, such as patients may only be located at certain clinical sites or within certain rural areas and only Medicare-defined physicians and practitioners can provide telehealth services. The Senate passed the bill onto the House last fall.
Also in the bill is H.R. 3120, legislation introduced by Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas) last year that aims to reduce the volume of future electronic health record-related significant hardship requests. The bill amends the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in order to remove a requirement that requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to continue to make meaningful use standards more stringent over time.
Health IT Now—a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers supporting health IT—responded to the release of Congressional Republicans’ with great positivity. “This bill is a win for patients and providers who depend on a competitive, 21st Century Medicare program that allows beneficiaries to tap into the technology of today to improve their wellbeing tomorrow. For too long, Medicare has lagged behind other health payers in covering and reimbursing telehealth services. These reforms are the beginning of a much-needed shift that will pay dividends in better healthcare outcomes and reduced costs.”