Newly Introduced HEART Act Focuses on Rural Telehealth

And the list of telehealth-related legislation introduced in the 115th Congress continues, yet again, to grow. As first reported by Healthcare Informatics and others, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) recently introduced the Helping Expand Access to Rural Telehealth (HEART) Act, which focuses on eliminating barriers to the use of telehealth in rural communities, including for cardiac care patients. “People in rural areas across America have been left behind, and they deserve access to modern medical practices,” said Rep. Duffy in a press release. “The HEART Act will help Americans improve health care quality and contact with health care professionals, regardless of where they live.”

Duffy comments in his press release that telehealth is particularly useful to patients in rural communities, with more than 40,000 rural Medicare beneficiaries receiving care via telehealth in 2013. To that end, the HEART Act would eliminate some of the existing barriers to Medicare coverage for telehealth in such communities, along with expanding coverage to rural health clinics. Notably, the legislation would also provide for Medicare coverage of remote monitoring services for patients with cardio obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure (CHF)—both costly chronic conditions.

As we’ve previously noted, the 115th Congress has been a particularly prolific one when it comes to telehealth-related bills, many of which are bipartisan and bicameral.  Most recently, a bipartisan group of senators reintroduced the CONNECT for Health Act, which seeks to expand the use of telehealth among Medicare beneficiaries. April saw the introduction of the CHRONIC Care Act, and, at the end of March, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced the Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act, which would expand Medicare’s coverage of telehealth services by permitting eligible hospitals, through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), to test the increased use of telehealth care. In February, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced versions of the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act in both chambers. The bill, which seeks to expand access to telestroke care, has drawn bipartisan support on both sides of the Capitol.

Click here for the article on the HEART Act from Healthcare Informatics.

Click here for a press release on the HEART Act from Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI).

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