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US Legislators Again Propose Broader Medicare Coverage for Telehealth

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For the second time in two years, members of the US House of Representatives have drafted legislation to expand reimbursement of mobile medical technologies used for remote patient monitoring under the Medicare national health system.

The current bill, the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014, would phase in Medicare coverage of mobile medical technologies and devices over four years, as well as allow a broader array of healthcare providers to administer telehealth services. Over the course of the phase-in, the bill would also commission a General Accountability Office (GAO) study to assess the expansion’s effectiveness in terms of reducing hospital readmissions for certain chronic conditions including diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Current US telehealth policy allows Medicare coverage for such technologies primarily to rural areas where access to healthcare facilities and providers is limited; remote patient monitoring is not covered at all by federal health programs.

The new bill succeeds the mobile medical technologies under US federal health insurance programs including Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; that bill was never considered by the full House of Representatives.

Stewart Eisenhart

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