Committee Votes to Increase Telehealth Access for Medicare Enrollees
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Increasing Telehealth Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 3727), authored by Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), passed unanimously in the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. The bill increases access to telehealth services for Medicare Advantage enrollees and allows plans to build telehealth services into their bids, giving them the option of offering these services as a core part of their care model. Congressman Black released the following statement:
“Telehealth focuses on harnessing innovative technology to increase convenience for patients and caregivers, enhance the quality of care and save both patients and the Medicare program money. In Tennessee’s rural communities, the wider offering of telehealth services means more access to care,” said Congressman Black. “For patients in suburban and urban communities throughout the state, telehealth offers the benefit of reducing the number of in-person visits to healthcare providers. As a nurse, I am proud to advance this bill so that Medicare Advantage plans can offer vital telehealth services as a basic benefit, rather than a supplemental service for our seniors.”
Under current law, traditional Medicare plans may only cover telehealth services in an extremely limited set of circumstances, such as when the beneficiary resides in a qualified rural area and is physically present in a hospital or physician’s office. The Increasing Telehealth Access to Medicare Act starts reform with Medicare Advantage, where plans have an incentive to ensure cost savings. Estimates have calculated that a telehealth consultation can save the Medicare program $45 versus an in-person visit.
Congressman Diane Black represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. A nurse for more than 40 years, she serves as Chairman of the House Budget Committee and a member of the Ways and Means Committee.