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Washington Debrief: Health IT Provisions Included in 21st Century Cures Bill Passed by the House

December 5, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs, CHIME
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As our readers know, OCR is gearing up for the second round of audits. They have notified select business associates of their inclusion in the Phase 2 HIPAA audits.  For more information on the HIPAA Phase 2 Audits visit their website.

Telehealth Addressed in House and Senate Last Week

Key Takeaway: Telehealth proposals continue to garner interest from lawmakers in the House and Senate.

Why It Matters: Lawmakers continue to explore ways to overcome obstacles impeding the expansion of access to telehealth services and reimbursement despite pushback from the Congressional budget office.

In the House, in addition to the telehealth provisions included in the House-passed 21st Century Cures bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), contains provisions that will impact the Department of Defense’s (DoD) telehealth policies. The bill passed by the House last week instructed the DoD to enhance access to and the use of telemedicine within 18 months of enactment as a means to improve access to care and improve communication between patients and their providers. The bill suggests services including secure messaging and home health monitoring via tablets, computers and other devices for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment supervision. A provision in the Senate version of the bill that required a provider using telehealth services to be licensed where they are practicing not necessarily where the patient is located was removed.

The Senate, last week, voted 97-0 to pass legislation that would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to examine potential uses of telehealth to address workforce areas in underserved and rural areas. The Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act (S. 2873) would provide the foundation to expand a small telehealth program meant to connect specialists with rural health facilities. Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX), a physician, introduced the companion bill last June, but the House has yet considered the legislation.

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