Miss. Senators Introduce Legislation to Expand Telehealth to Medicare Patients

From:  News Release   5/3/17   GCN


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today introduced bipartisan legislation to increase the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring through Medicare while also helping to lower costs for patients and providers.


The Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies for Health Act of 2017 (CONNECT for Health Act) is intended to build on evidence that telehealth and remote patient monitoring improve care and patient satisfaction while reducing hospitalizations.


“Mississippi is a national leader in demonstrating how telehealth can successfully bring health care to people in their communities, often providing life-saving care that otherwise would not be available.  The bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act is intended to use Mississippi’s good example to expand telehealth services nationwide,” Cochran said.  “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on this important issue.”


“This legislation seeks to harness the promise of American technology and innovation to lower costs and improve the quality of care for Medicare patients,” Wicker said.  “Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring have proven to be cost-effective tools to care for some of Mississippi’s most rural populations.  I am confident that we can achieve improved access through telehealth for Medicare patients across the country.”


The CONNECT for Health Care Act was introduced by Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Wicker, Cochran, and Senators Ben Cardin, D-Md., John Thune, R-S.D., and Mark Warner, D-Va.


The legislation would:

  • Expand the use of telehealth in accountable care organizations, for home dialysis therapy, for the evaluation of an acute stroke, and in Medicare Advantage;
  • Expand the use of remote patient monitoring for certain patients with chronic conditions;
  • Increase telehealth and remote patient monitoring services in community health centers and rural health clinics, Native American sites, and in global and bundled payments;
  • Provide direct authority to the HHS secretary to lift existing restrictions on telehealth when certain quality and cost-effectiveness criteria are met; and
  • Expand the use of tele-mental health services, such as psychiatric consults using live, audio-video connections.


The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson has been a national leader in telehealth for more than a decade.  UMMC is one of more than 50 organizations to endorse the CONNECT for Health Act, including AARP, ACT | The App Association, Alliance for Connected Care, America’s Essential Hospitals, America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, American Medical Association, American Society of Nephrology, American Telemedicine Association, American Well, Anthem, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, The ERISA Industry Committee, Hawaii Medical Service Association, Healthcare Leadership Council, HIMSS, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, National Association of Community Health Centers, Personal Connected Health Alliance, Qualcomm, Third Way, and the University of Virginia Center for Telehealth.