Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Roger Marshall (1st District of Kansas)
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Roger Marshall (R-KS), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Jodey Arrington (R-TX), and Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced the Home Health Emergency Access to Telehealth (HEAT) Act, a bipartisan bill to provide Medicare reimbursement for audio and video telehealth services furnished by home health agencies during the COVID-19 emergency and future public health emergencies. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
“Since taking office, I have been a strong proponent of telehealth services and during this pandemic we have seen the use of telehealth dramatically improve patients access to care,” said Rep. Roger Marshall, M.D. “This legislation allows the flexibilities necessary for our home health providers to continue assisting their patients while keeping them safe and at home. It is important we do all we can to protect our most vulnerable and provide our nurses and doctors with every resource necessary to continue providing high-quality care.”
“Home health serves a vital role in helping our nation’s seniors avoid more costly hospital visits and nursing home stays. The COVID-19 emergency has further underscored the critical importance of home health services and highlighted how these agencies are able to use telehealth to provide skilled care to their patients,” said Senator Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee. “This bipartisan bill would ensure that seniors in Maine and across the country retain access to remote home health services during the COVID-19 emergency and future public health emergencies.
The Home Health Emergency Access to Telehealth (HEAT) Act would authorize Medicare reimbursement for home health services provided through telehealth during a public health emergency where telehealth can be used appropriately. The services would not be reimbursed unless the beneficiary consents to receiving the services via telehealth. To ensure that the Medicare home health benefit does not become a telehealth-only benefit, Medicare reimbursement would only be provided if the telehealth services constitute no more than half of the billable visits made during the 30-day payment period.
The bipartisan bill has been endorsed by several home health organizations and agencies, including Leading Age, the Visiting Nurse Associations, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), and the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.