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Action Alert
Supporters/Friends of the RT Profession: Co-Sponsor Bills that include RTs as Telehealth Providers

THE REQUEST TO CONGRESS

To date, three telehealth bills have been introduced in the 115th Congress by members of the House of Representatives that include respiratory care as a telehealth service and respiratory therapists among the professionals covered to provide telehealth and/or remote patient monitoring services under Medicare.  The AARC is asking for co-sponsorship of these bills in the House in order to increase the chances of advancing the bills through the legislative process.    

BACKGOUND

Telehealth is a significant and rapidly growing component of healthcare in the United States today.  It includes video conferencing, remote monitoring and store and forward technologies.  Currently Medicare covers telehealth only in rural counties and health shortage areas.  Among the services covered are consultations, counseling, outpatient and annual wellness visits, transitional care management services, advance care planning and smoking cessation services.

Respiratory services, such as chronic disease management, are not covered currently under Medicare telehealth and respiratory therapists are not among those who may furnish services.  It is important to gain co-sponsorship for the telehealth bills described below so respiratory therapists’ expertise is recognized in the treatment and care they can bring via a telehealth delivery system to their patients who suffer from chronic respiratory disease.

H.R. 2550 – Medicare Telehealth Parity Act: Provides incremental expansion of telehealth beyond rural areas, includes an individual’s home as a telehealth site, and covers remote monitoring for patients with chronic conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Rehabilitation (COPD), heart failure and diabetes.

H.R. 2291: – Helping Expand Access to Rural Telemedicine (HEART) Act:  Includes Community Access Hospitals and Rural Health Clinics as telehealth sites and covers remote monitoring for patients with Congestive Heart Failure and COPD, including evaluation and management of the condition.

H.R. 766 – Telehealth for Individuals Residing in Public Housing:  Provides coverage of respiratory care and other therapy services as part of a 5-year pilot program for public housing residents.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

We are asking the respiratory profession and the pulmonary patient community to use the AARC’s CAP Connection to contact their House Representatives to get our message to Congress.  We urge others who recognize the importance of the profession to voice their support to their own House of Representative members.  Draft letters are included for your use; however, personalizing it with your experiences will have the most impact. Your efforts will ultimately help the Medicare beneficiaries with pulmonary disease gain greater access to respiratory therapists and the services they provide.


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