On May 18, 2017, the Senate Finance Committee voted to move forward a bill entitled the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017 (S870), which would increase access to telehealth services in the home.
Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technology to support remote clinical healthcare, patient and professional health related education and other healthcare delivery functions.
As stated in the Senate Finance Committee summary of the bill, while Medicare beneficiaries may receive telehealth services in a variety of settings under current law, the Medicare program recognizes and pays for only certain Part B telehealth services (which must be either remote patient and physician/professional face to face services delivered via a telecommunications system or non-face to face services that can be conducted either through live video conferencing or via store and forward telecommunication services in the case of any federal telemedicine demonstration program in Alaska or Hawaii).
The Senate Finance Committee summary of the bill also states that telehealth may have the potential to replace some face to face office visits, reduce emergency room visits and prevent hospitalizations. Telehealth may also keep beneficiaries in closer, more consistent contact with providers.
In addition to other support, the legislation is endorsed by several home health care industry advocate organizations.