Proposed bill seeks to expand Medicare reimbursement for telehealth

Senators Cory Gardener (R-Colo.) and Gary Peter (D-Mich.) introduced legislation to expand healthcare access in rural areas through additional Medicare-funded telehealth services, according to a Health Data Management report.

 The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act would require HHS to allow eligible hospitals to test telehealth services through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. The CMI would be responsible for evaluating effectiveness, cost and quality of telehealth services. If a telehealth model meets criteria provisions in the bill, then Medicare would cover its services.

"It's going to be less expensive in the long-term to provide telehealth services this way," Peter Rasmussen, MD, medical director of distance health at Cleveland Clinic, told Health Data Management. "The real opportunity in all of this is in the development of virtual disease management programs for things like managing chronic hypertension and diabetes through remote monitoring and care coordinators, and minimizing the number of actual bricks-and-mortar visits that [patients] have to undergo."

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