Washington, DC—In July, Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act, legislation that would encourage telehealth innovation and promote expanded access to healthcare services in rural and urban areas through telehealth and digital services. Bipartisan companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI). The bill has recently been endorsed by Utah Governor Gary Herbert, Intermountain Healthcare, and the Healthcare Leadership Council.
“Telehealth innovation is critical to expanding cost-effective healthcare access in a state like Utah, where care is often unavailable or difficult to access for rural communities,” said Curtis.“The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act will help incentivize healthcare organizations and providers to find innovative ways to deliver care to Utah families at a lower cost. Technology provides great potential to enhance connectivity between healthcare professionals and their patients and I’m pleased to work with willing partners on both sides of the aisle to find healthcare solutions for rural communities across Utah and around the country.”
Statements of Support:
Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert: “Rural healthcare is a perennial and serious healthcare in Utah. [This] bill encourages more healthcare providers and hospitals to launch telehealth programs through the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMI) and calls on CMI to evaluate telehealth models for the cost, effectiveness, and improvement in quality of care, and reimburse programs that meet these criteria.”
Jim Sheets, Intermountain Healthcare Vice President, Outreach Services:“Intermountain Healthcare is completely committed to utilizing telehealth and digital tools to expand access to healthcare in the Intermountain West. Telehealth is a valuable tool that can decrease the cost of care and enhance services in rural communities where specialty care is not available. We are supportive of any legislation that helps increase access to telehealth services in our communities.”
Mary R. Grealy, Healthcare Leadership Council President: “The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act is a step toward expanding telehealth services that improve quality of care, reduce costs, and improve healthcare outcomes. HLC supports reexamining restrictive reimbursement and regulatory barriers that make it challenging to use telehealth. This legislation would allow providers to test telehealth delivery models without regard to the limitations on the type of service provided, geographic areas or location of the patient. Further, this legislation would expand coverage and payment for certain enhanced telehealth services that are certified as providing savings under the Medicare program and improving quality of care.”
- Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow eligible hospitals to apply to test expanded telehealth delivery models through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Center (CMI). CMI is an existing program that tests new service models to reduce Medicare and Medicaid expenditures.
- Directs the Secretary of HHS to review telehealth models through a CMI independent evaluator, for cost, effectiveness, and improvement in quality of care without increasing the cost of healthcare delivery.
- If the telehealth model improves quality of care without increasing spending or decreases Medicare spending, then that specific telehealth model will be covered through the greater Medicare program.