New Bill Would Expand Medicare Reimbursement for Telemedicine

Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.) are set to introduce a bill into the House of Representatives next week that has been hailed by health IT advocates as a major step forward in expanding the use of telemedicine across the country.

Currently titled the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014, the legislation would significantly expand instances in which Medicare would reimburse for telemedicine services. Currently, Medicare only reimburses for telemedicine services rendered to patients living outside metropolitan statistical areas; this bill would extend coverage to those living in an MSA of fewer than 50,000 residents after six months, to those in MSAs of between 50,000 and 100,000 people in two years and to any Medicare beneficiary in four years. The bill would also expand telemedicine services eligible for reimbursement to include many outpatient therapy services and provide coverage for remote patient monitoring and other home-based telemedicine services.

The bill has the support of industry groups such as the Alliance for Connected Care, which called the proposed legislation "a serious contribution" to making telemedicine more widely available, according to a report in Politico.

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