The Future of Telehealth for CHRONIC Care

The CHRONIC Care Act of 2017

September 1, 2017

As you might expect, telehealth is the subject of much enacted and proposed legislation. More than 200 telehealth related items were introduced in the 2017 legislative session alone.

A significant piece of bipartisan legislation was passed unanimously by the Senate Finance Committee in May 2017; called the CHRONIC Care Act of 2017, the bill focuses on improving care for chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries. Key provisions of the Act include:

  • Extending the Independence at Home (IAH) program by two years; the IAH program establishes home based primary care teams for Medicare patients with multiple chronic conditions
  • Allowing reimbursement for additional social services
  • Giving Medicare Advantage plans and accountable care organizations greater flexibility to offer telehealth services
  • Expanding access to telehealth for home dialysis and stroke assessments

The overriding purpose of the bill, as described by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, is to improve disease management, lower Medicare costs,  and streamline care coordination services – all without adding to the nation’s deficit.

While it’s likely anyone reading this post knows what telehealth is, an official definition may be helpful;  the following is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.

The benefits of telehealth are widely recognized. This is how the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), the nation’s largest non-profit telehealth association, summarizes those benefits:  

The CHRONIC Care Act is a legislative step forward in recognizing the importance of telehealth in the complex healthcare tapestry.  

Written By:

Rob Tedesco
Chief Executive Officer

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