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WHA Urges Congress to Remove Medicare Telehealth Restrictions

April 09, 2019

In a letter sent last week, WHA asked the federal Congressional Telehealth Caucus to expand access to telehealth services for Medicare patients by eliminating a federal statute that prohibits Medicare from paying for telehealth services if the patient is located in an urban area or at home.

The Congressional Telehealth Caucus is a bipartisan coalition of U.S. Representatives and Senators seeking to develop a legislative package to “expand access to vital, cost-efficient telehealth and remote monitoring services across the country.”

As stated in WHA’s letter, telehealth, which is the delivery of health care services remotely by means of telecommunications technology, can help to improve access to health care services by allowing patients to receive care locally in their communities by connecting to existing providers in other locations. By enabling patients to connect to providers remotely, telehealth also decreases the amount of time that patients need to travel or be away from work and family. Further, by reducing avoidable, higher-cost health care utilization (e.g., emergency room visits and hospital admissions), the delivery of care via telehealth can help to reduce or maintain overall health care costs.

In urging the elimination of the statutory prohibition on Medicare paying for at-home or urban telehealth services, WHA asked the Congressional Telehealth Caucus to build upon the incremental but important work that Congress recently has taken to permit payment for targeted Medicare telehealth services delivered to patients located in urban areas or at home.

For more information, contact Andrew Brenton, WHA assistant general counsel, or Jon Hoelter, WHA director of federal and state relations, at 608-274-1820.

This story originally appeared in the April 09, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter