Telehealth has long been heralded as a means to help manage healthcare costs and give patients in rural areas access to quality and convenient care. Unfortunately, the concept has not yet reached critical mass, as interested parties have to make their way through considerable red tape that negates the convenience and forces many to revert to in person visits.
The legislation seeks to increase the use of telehealth services by creating new pathways.
This might soon be changing, as a bill with bipartisan support has been presented to Congress. Mobile Health News reports that U.S. Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Mike Thompson (D-CA) Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Diane Black (R-TN) have introduced the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015, or H.R. 2948. The legislation seeks to increase the use of telehealth services by creating new pathways for patients and providers to engage in care that remove many of the previous challenges.
"Rep. Thompson's bill will help Medicare better serve millions of beneficiaries by providing more access to telemedicine technology that delivers quality treatment in a cost-effective way," said Jonathan Linkous, chief executive officer of the American Telemedicine Association in a written statement. "The bill's sponsors understand, from years of experience with Medicaid plans in their states, that access to telemedicine improves healthcare delivery and outcomes."
The Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015 intends to do away with the geographic restrictions in place under current regulations and increase the number of providers engaging in telehealth services, in addition to a number of other goal that would make it easier for patients in underserved areas to receive care.
If passed, the expansion of telehealth services will require many providers to seek healthcare compliance consulting to properly mitigate the risk of HIPAA violations.