Proposed Federal Telehealth Law Could Save Medicare an Estimated $1.8 Billion

A bipartisan group of US Senators led by Brian Schatz (D-HI) has introduced legislation that would enable an expansion of telemedicine services covered by Medicare, and could result in substantial cost savings.

The bill’s other sponsors are Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

The bill, the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, contains three significant policy changes that would serve to increase use of telehealth technologies:

The bill would:

  • Establish a “bridge program” that allows doctors participating in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) to apply for demonstration waivers that would exempt them from restrictions Medicare imposes on the coverage of telehealth,
  • Cover telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) for provider participants in Alternative Payment Models (such as Accountable Care Organizations-ACOs, Patient Centered Medical Homes-PCMHs, etc., and
  • Provide for coverage of RPM technologies for patients with chronic conditions to fee-for-service physicians and practitioners, whether or not they participate in Medicare quality and value improvement programs

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