CBO: Telehealth bill would save private Medicare plans $80M in 10 years

A bill that would expand telehealth coverage to Medicare Advantage plans would reduce healthcare expenditures by $80 million over the next 10 years, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis.

Starting in 2020, the Increasing Telehealth Access in Medicare Act (H.R. 3727) would allow MA plans to reimburse for telehealth at a rate comparable to in-person visits.

According to CBO estimate, the bill, which passed by voice vote in the House Ways and Means Committee Sept. 13, would increase direct spending by $46 million over the 2018-2022 period and decrease direct spending by $4 million over the 2018-2027 period.

"CBO concluded that coverage of telehealth services by private payers sometimes results in higher spending and sometimes results in savings; in either case, the effects on spending tend to be small," the analysis reads. "For MA plans that offer telehealth services as supplemental benefits, this provision would increase spending, because Medicare’s payment would reflect the full cost of those benefits instead of the 50 percent to 70 percent of the cost that is covered by the rebate."

More articles on telehealth: 

Health IT coalition supports bill to expand telehealth for veterans

Senate passes Medicare telehealth expansion bill, CHRONIC Care Act

Telemedicine: A force multiplier in fighting the opioid epidemic

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