Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring

State of Play:  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to make changes to the Rural Health Care Program of the Universal Services Fund to promote transparency and predictability for healthcare and services providers and further the efficient allocation of limited Rural Health Care Program resources.  The proposed revisions to the Anti-Kickback Statute by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would directly benefit companies offering telemedicine and digital health items or services, remote patient monitoring, and chronic care management services.  The OIG proposes to create safe harbors for patient engagement tools and support.  The American Medical Association has created six new Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes related to telehealth and remote patient monitoring.

HLC Position:  HLC believes payment for telehealth services should always be based on the type of service being provided, not the setting in which it is provided, so providers are able to choose the delivery mode that is most effective for each patient.  HLC supports removing payment and regulatory barriers that prevent the use of telemedicine in this manner.  Telehealth and remote patient monitoring will help provide quality healthcare to an aging patient population as we face projections of worsening healthcare workforce shortages.  Telehealth can reach underserved populations while improving healthcare cost efficiency.

HLC Recent Activity:

  • In October, HLC issued a press statement in support of the “Specialty Treatment Access and Referrals (STAR) Act” (H.R. 5190), which provides support for the creation of new telehealth infrastructure.
  • On October 30, HLC attended the release of S. 2741/H.R. 4932 the “Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT for Health) Act.” The bill, which includes several recommendations by HLC, would loosen restrictions on geographic and originating sites for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries seeking telehealth services
  • On August 29, HLC responded to a notice of proposed rulemaking issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on promoting telehealth for low-income customers. The letter supported the FCC’s Connected Care Pilot, which discounts connectivity for broadband-enabled telehealth services that directly connect doctors and patients.
  • On August 1, HLC hosted staff from the Connected Health Initiative, who gave a regulatory and legislative update on telehealth and remote patient monitoring.
  • On June 26, HLC wrote the House Committee on Ways and Means (W&M) in support of H.R. 3417, the “Beneficiary Education Tools, Telehealth and Extender Reauthorization (BETTER) Act.” This legislation would expand access to mental health services by allowing eligible Medicare beneficiaries to receive mental health telehealth services in their home.
  • In April, HLC attended the American Telemedicine Association’s 2019 conference.
  • On April 1, HLC responded to a request for information from the Congressional Telehealth Caucus and a bipartisan group of U.S. senators as they begin to draft comprehensive telehealth legislation in the 116th
  • On March 1, HLC responded to a letter from Senator Lamar Alexander (R/TN) seeking solutions to address America’s rising healthcare costs. The letter supported expanding coverage for telehealth services that can reduce costs, increase access, and improve patient health and outcomes.
  • HLC continues to collaborate with the Connected Health Initiative, a multistakeholder telehealth and remote patient monitoring working group that meets regularly to coordinate on key regulatory and legislative telehealth activities.