FAST Act Gets House Committee Hearing

Another piece of telehealth-related legislation appears to be one step closer to passage. Six months into a Congress that’s already been a busy one for telehealth bills, mHealth Intelligence reports that H.R. 1148, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act, was set to be considered in the House Energy & Commerce Committee on July 20, along with a slate of nearly a dozen other health care-related bills. The legislation was discussed during a hearing entitled “Examining Bipartisan Legislation to Improve the Medicare Program.”

Introduced by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) in February, the FAST Act has garnered broad bipartisan support. The legislation, which was previously introduced in the 114th Congress, seeks to expand access to telestroke care. Specifically, it would remove Medicare’s current geographic restrictions on reimbursement for telestroke services, which are limited to patients located in rural areas. The FAST Act has also gathered momentum over on the Senate side, where Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced a version of the bill earlier this year. Notably, provisions from the bill were included in the version of the CHRONIC Care Act that passed the Senate Finance Committee this spring; that bill is aimed at improving care for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions. For the House version’s part, Politico noted that it could potentially be included as part of must-pass legislation, slated for a September vote, to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and other programs.

The Energy & Commerce hearing isn’t the only telehealth-related event taking place on the Hill this week. The House Committee on Small Business announced via Twitter that it would be holding a hearing, also on July 20, entitled “21st Century Medicine: How Telehealth Can Help Rural Communities.” According to the committee Web site, witnesses and committee members planned to discuss “the current utilization of telehealth services and how expansion of telehealth services could benefit small businesses and rural communities.”

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, Sen. Schatz and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), both longtime advocates for telehealth, introduced the Reaching Underserved Rural Areas to Lead on Telehealth (RURAL) Act, which is designed to increase the affordability of broadband service for providers treating patients in rural communities. In May, 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. See CTeL’s recent report on telehealth legislation in the 115th Congress for more detailed analysis.

Click here to read the mHealth Intelligence article on the FAST Act.

Click here for more information from the House Energy & Commerce Committee on the July 20 hearing.

Click here for more information from the House Small Business Committee on the July 20 hearing.


One Comment

  1. harga kacamata
    Nov 09, 2017

    Great article.

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