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New Bill to Expand Telehealth Coverage for Seniors with Chronic Illnesses

Posted on Friday, May 19, 2017 1:14 PM

A bill is currently in Senate to expand in-home care. This will make it easier for seniors with chronic illnesses to access telehealth.

On May 18, members of the Senate Finance Committee voted to move forward with the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017 (S. 870). The bill is expected to increase Medicare coverage for telehealth services.

If the bill passes, the following could happen:
• Extend telehealth coverage for people with chronic conditions
• Extend the pilot Independence at Home (IAH) demonstration and increase the maximum number of allowable beneficiaries to 15,000
• Reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room, avoidable hospitalizations and readmissions, and lower total Medicare costs

“It empowers seniors; however, they get their Medicare,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “This is going to give those seniors the tools so they can navigate this extraordinarily byzantine health care system.”

The legislation expects huge savings with this bill. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) found that IAH recorded savings for Medicare of more than $25 million in 2015 and more than $10 million in 2016.

According to a preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, while expanding telehealth coverage would cost hundreds of millions more dollars, those spending increases would be canceled out by eliminating funding in the Medicare Improvement Fund.

“As the first major bipartisan health care bill introduced in the 115th Congress, the CHRONIC Care Act will improve disease management, lower Medicare costs and streamline care coordination services – all with bipartisan solutions and without adding to the deficit,” noted Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), another one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) show support towards this previous and similar version of the CHRONIC Care Act.

The bill was unanimously approved by a vote of 26-0.

For the full article, click here.

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