Telehealth Gets BiPartisan Love


June 9, 2017 By InTouch Health

People who disagree on almost everything usually agree that telehealth is a great idea. Just look at the new Congressional Telehealth Caucus – it’s spearheaded by U.S. Representative Diane Black (R-Tenn.), a former registered nurse who’s been honored by the American Conservative Union. At her side is Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who represents the same constituents as arch-liberal Bernie Sanders.

Both the House and Senate are brimming with bipartisan-sponsored telehealth bills. In typical Congressional fashion, most of them have long names with catchy acronyms, like the Creating Opportunities Now for the Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) Act and Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act.

Congress is also taking another look at the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act (MTPA), a measure first introduced in 2014 by founding caucus members Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.). The bill received the enthusiastic support of the American Telemedicine Association, but faltered on the Hill.

“Telehealth saves money and helps save lives,” said Thompson when the bill was first introduced. “By expanding telehealth services, we can make sure the best care and the best treatments are available to all Americans, no matter where they live.”

The MTPA is designed to roll out in three stages, expanding Medicare telehealth services initially to federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics. In Phase Two, it would expand those services to metro areas with up to 100,000 residents – and Phase Three would make them available to patients in even the largest U.S. cities.

Nothing fosters across-the-aisle goodwill quite like telehealth. Check back on our blog, where we’ll keep you posted about how these bills fare on Capitol Hill this year.