Bringing our Healthcare System into the 21st Century with Telehealth
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Act by a vote of 344-77. This legislation was the product of a year-long initiative aimed at accelerating the discovery, development, and delivery of new cures and treatments to more Americans.
The bill has a number of important provisions that will promote medical innovation and modernize our healthcare system, including providing $8.75 billion in new funding for the National Institutes of Health to significantly advance biomedical research in the U.S and speeding regulatory approval for medical treatments and devices. We applaud House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D –Colo.) for their strong bipartisanship leadership and hard work on this initiative.
As the Committee worked to develop the 21st Century Cures Act, TIA was actively engaged in these discussions. We worked with a bipartisan group of Representatives committed to developing legislation that would allow Medicare to realize improved quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries through the potential of advanced information and communications technology (ICT).
The 21st Century Cures initiative provided a great platform to discuss these important issues in depth, and highlight the current restrictions on telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM), as well as the outdated regulatory barriers that continue to stifle innovation and progress in health IT.
New ICT-enabled services such as telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) have the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery. These technologies have proven, wide-ranging benefits, including improved quality of care - particularly for patients with chronic and debilitating conditions - and significantly lower healthcare costs.
Yet, Medicare continues to do a poor job integrating innovative and team-based approaches. Furthermore, Medicare coverage for telehealth is shockingly lacking, with telehealth reimbursement totaling a mere $13.9 million out of the nearly $1 trillion CMS annual budget. For these reasons TIA will continue to advocate for important reforms that will positively transform the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries, such as allowing for reimbursement for remote patient monitoring.
In addition to our individual efforts, TIA has also had the privilege of working closely with a diverse group of stakeholders from across the technology and healthcare sectors over the last year. Through our combined efforts we were able to make significant progress in moving conversations forward in Congress. Today, there is real momentum on the Hill to remove these arduous restrictions and make sure our laws help more Americans live longer, healthier lives.
TIA with continue to work with telehealth supporters in Congress, the Administration and other stakeholders to ensure access to telehealth resources are improved as we seek to bring our healthcare system into the 21st century.