The Senate voted today to pass a two-year budget deal  that includes the CHRONIC Care Act, legislation with key provisions aimed at improving access and quality of care for Medicare patients.
The act was authored by US Senators Brian Schatz of Hawai‘i and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Sen. Schatz said “almost every other part of our health system uses technology to improve health and save costs,” and, “It’s long past time for Medicare to catch up.”
In a statement Sen. Schatz said:
“This legislation will improve health outcomes for Medicare patients, especially those who live in rural areas or have to make a big effort to get to the doctor’s office, and will make sure that Medicare is ready for the future, when telehealth plays an even bigger role in health care. I’m glad that Congress is making a bipartisan effort to make sure no one gets left behind from the promises and benefits telehealth has to offer.”
According to Sen. Schatz, studies show that telehealth improves care and patient satisfaction while reducing costs.
Backers of the bill say the CHRONIC Care Act “lifts outdated restrictions that limit Medicare from reimbursing for telehealth.”
The telehealth provisions of the CHRONIC Care Act seek to expand the use of telehealth in accountable care organizations and Medicare Advantage, as well as for home dialysis patients and the evaluation of an acute stroke.
In addition to Senators Schatz and Wicker, the telehealth provisions of the CHRONIC Care Act were cosponsored in the CONNECT for Health Act by US Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).