On Oct. 22, Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) introduced the Telehealth Enhancement Act of 2013, known as HR 3306, cosponsored by Mike Thompson (D-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT). This bill seeks to expand the use of telehealth technology in the healthcare system, particularly in rural communities.
VNAA reached out to Hill sponsors and the American Telehealth Association (ATA) which assisted in providing insights on key aspects of the proposed legislation. HR 3306 is referred to the Energy and Commerce and the Way and Means committees, which share jurisdiction on this issue. Key components of the Act include:
- Add incentive for fewer Medicare hospital re-admissions by recognizing the costs of remote patient monitoring
- Develop a Medicare "medical home" or "health home" model and waive statutory Medicare restrictions on telehealth services
- Allow Medicare accountable care organizations (ACOs) to use telehealth like Medicare managed care plans and adjust Medicare home health payments to account for remote patient monitoring
- Cover telehealth services and remote patient monitoring under Medicare payment bundles for post-acute care
- Cover home-based video services for hospice care, home dialysis and homebound Medicare beneficiaries, as well as for critical access hospitals
- Create new Medicaid optional package for high-risk pregnancy and birth networks
HR 3306 is not companion legislation to the Fostering Independence Through Technology, (S. 596), legislation introduced on the Senate side by Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). VNAA supported the FITT legislation and Sen. Thune was recognized as a Congressional Champion at VNAA's 2013 Public Policy Leadership Conference.
VNAA will be working closely with congressional sponsors, ATA and other national organizations to promote movement of this bill including securing cosponsors and supporting introduction of a Senate bill. Given the current acrimony on Capitol Hill following recent actions and coming elections in 2014, hopes for final passage of this measure are uncertain. Still any effort to support telehealth for home health and hospice moves the ball forward.