Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Expand Medicare Telehealth Services
The Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2019 was introduced on October 30, 2019 by Senators Schatz (D-HI), Cardin (D-MD), Thune (R-SD), Warner (D-VA) and Hyde Smith along with Representatives Thompson (D-CA), Welch (D-VT), Schweikert (R-AZ) and Johnson (R-OH).
Numerous studies on telehealth have shown benefits for increased access to care and reduced spending. However, there are current statutory restrictions on the use of telehealth that create unnecessary barriers to care. Under current Medicare law, only certain health professionals are allowed to furnish telehealth services. Audiologists are currently excluded from providing such services as they are currently not classified as “practitioners” for the purposes of Medicare.
Section 14 of the CONNECT for Health Act would authorize a model to test allowing additional health professionals (including audiologists) to furnish telehealth services in Medicare. Also, this legislation would authorizes a study to examine whether a patient’s home could be used as an “originating site” (patient could remain at home and receive services) via telehealth in Medicare.
The Academy supports this legislation along with over one hundred additional groups including the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the National Association for Rural Health Clinics.