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Bipartisan Senate bill seeks to expand telemedicine services

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators Wednesday are introducing a bill aimed at expanding telemedicine service through Medicare benefits.

“Telehealth is the future of healthcare. It saves money and improves health outcomes,” co-sponsor Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said.

“Our bipartisan bill puts us on a path to transform healthcare delivery, making it less costly and more convenient for patients and providers.”

The bill, called the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act (PDF), would expand the use of remote patient-monitoring for some patients with chronic conditions, increase telemedicine services in community health centers and rural health clinics, and provide basic telemedicine benefits through Medicare Advantage.

According to a news release from Schatz’s office, the bill would have the added benefit of helping providers meet the goals of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.

Avalere last week released a study on the financial benefits of CONNECT.

The study estimates it will provide $1.8 billion in savings to Medicare over a decade.

The CONNECT Act carries the early support of several industry groups, including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Heart Association and Kaiser Permanente.

“This bill would ensure that patients and their physicians are able to use new technologies that remove barriers to timely quality care. Importantly, the bill would maintain high standards whether a patient is seeing a physician in an office or via telemedicine,” said Dr. Steven J. Stack, president of the American Medical Association.

U.S. Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
By Joseph Conn | February 3, 2016 | ModernHealthcare |

According to ABC 10, the future of healthcare in America is being considered in a bipartisan bill co–sponsored by U.S. Senator Gary Peters.

Peters and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) introduced the Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act. The bill is designed to make it easier for people to receive health care in rural places through telehealth services, such as sitting at home on your computer.

Peters believes that this bill would expand quality healthcare for people of all ages and improve patient outcomes.

“We can actually provide quality healthcare services to people in their own home,” said Peters. “You wouldn’t have to make the trip to Marquette or a clinic at some other place that may be a half hour, hour, or an hour and a half away from you. If you can connect to a healthcare provider, whether it’s in Marquette, Detroit or another place and stay in your own home; that saves money. It’s an incredible advantage to the patients as well.”

If the bill is eventually passed, Peters said that there would be a prototype program put in place first before it’s launched nationwide.


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