The evening of Sept. 26, 2017, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that expands the use of telehealth. The bill aims to better serve Medicare beneficiaries who have chronic conditions, reports The Hill. The CAST team learned of it the next day while participating in a Telehealth Expo in the U.S. Senate, where we highlighted our work in telehealth and explained its vision to Senators, Congressional staff, and industry leaders. The U.S. Senate Broadband Caucus sponsored the event.
 
The CHRONIC Care Act expands the use of telehealth by Medicare Advantage enrollees, accountable care organizations, and people with stroke.
 
"This legislation will improve disease management, lower Medicare costs, and streamline care coordination services – all without adding to the deficit," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in a statement. "Addressing these issues is critical for the increasing number of individuals who live with multiple chronic conditions and will age into the Medicare program over the next two decades."
 
The bill will make changes in Medicare payment policies to achieve these goals. In addition to enabling telehealth services and other initiatives, it expands the Independence at Home Demonstration, which LeadingAge supported. The bill also eliminates barriers to care coordination under accountable care organizations, and it calls for a Government Accountability Office study on longitudinal comprehensive care planning services under Medicare Part B.
 
Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) joined Sen. Hatch to introduce this bipartisan bill, which now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives.

CAST believes the bill is a small step in the right direction.