Washington, DC—Today, 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. Currently, Medicare covers limited telehealth services, setting a poor industry standard, discouraging innovation, and restricting access to specialized care. Bipartisan companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

“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.”

“For constituents across my district, and especially those in rural areas, this bill will mean more access to quality healthcare, better health outcomes, and a more efficient healthcare system overall,” said Neguse. “I have heard about the importance of expanding access to telehealth from countless constituents and providers alike. This bill will help grow access to these critical services while also improving quality of care. I am pleased to work with Representative Curtis to bring together values from both sides of the aisle to enhance access to care for citizens across our country.”

“All Coloradans deserve access to health care services regardless of whether they live in rural or urban areas. The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act would allow Medicare to expand coverage of telehealth services and increase access for people living in rural America,” said Gardner. “It would also incentivize the healthcare industry to develop new technologies that could potentially reduce costs and improve patient health. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to advance this commonsense legislation that will help rural Coloradans access better care.”

“We must ensure that people living in rural areas have equal access to quality health care. This bipartisan, bicameral, commonsense legislation would expand telehealth services to Michigan seniors and families in rural and underserved communities,” said Peters. “This effort has the potential to improve health outcomes and lower health care costs by reducing the number of expensive emergency room visits, hospitalizations and readmissions.”

“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,” said Jim Sheets, Intermountain Healthcare Vice President, Outreach Services.

Background:

  • 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. 

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