CBO Estimates Medicare Telestroke Bill Would Cost $180 Million Over a Decade | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

CBO Estimates Medicare Telestroke Bill Would Cost $180 Million Over a Decade

October 25, 2017
by Heather Landi
| Reprints

Legislation that would expand the use of telehealth services for Medicare stroke patients located in non-rural areas would cost the federal government $180 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

CBO, a nonpartisan federal agency that provides budget and economic information to Congress, released its cost estimate report last week on H.R. 1148, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act of 2017.

Introduced by Rep. Griffith (R-VA) and Rep. Beatty(D-OH), the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act, if passed, would increase timely access to trained neurologists through telemedicine in the Medicare program so neurologists can direct patient care at the earliest possible intervention point, the bill authors state.

Currently, Medicare will only pay for such a consultation if the originating site hospital is in a rural Health Professional Shortage Area or a county outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to the bill sponsors. “However, 94 percent of stroke patients live in urban and suburban areas. Stroke is currently the 5th leading cause of death and is projected to increase significantly; associated costs are projected to triple by 2030. However, with quick treatment, stroke patients can mitigate subsequent medical complications and disability, but every minute can count,” the bill sponsors wrote in a memo.

The CBO report states that, under current law, coverage of telehealth services is restricted to Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas. Beginning on January 1, 2021, H.R. 1148 would remove that geographic restriction for telestroke services (a subset of telehealth services that involves consultation with a neurologist for a patient suspected of having had a stroke).

After its review, CBO concluded that spending—by the federal government and nonfederal providers combined—for a cohort would increase in the year in which the telestroke consultation occurs and then decline in subsequent years.

CBO stated that higher spending in the first year would be the result of additional consultations, more medications, additional treatment, and more spending for post–acute-care services during the 90 days after a hospital stay. Annual spending would be lower in subsequent years largely because the number of patients who are discharged from the hospital with moderate or severe disability would decline significantly as would spending for long-term care.

“Because Medicare does not cover long-term care services such as nursing home care, much of the savings from avoided long-term-care services would accrue to beneficiaries, other private payers, and state Medicaid programs—and not to the federal government. The federal government would share in the savings that accrue to state Medicaid programs,”





Get the latest information on Telemedicine and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



Class Action Lawsuit Claims eClinicalWorks Deficiencies Led to Inaccurate Medical Records

A class action lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York alleges that electronic health records vendor eClinicalWorks failed “millions of patients by failing to maintain the integrity of patients’ records.”

HHS Secretary Names Three Members to HIT Advisory Committee

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Acting Secretary Eric D. Hargan named three members to the Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (HITAC), established by the 21st Century Cures Act.

Survey Gauges Health System Preparedness for Quality Payment Program

A new survey indicates that most healthcare organizations are relying on EHRs and population health management solutions for quality performance management. However, survey respondents also report low satisfaction with these solutions, which puts organizations at risk of falling short of their goals for maximizing payment incentives.

House Committee Examining Personnel and Organizational Changes at HHS Cybersecurity Center

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is examining whether the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) retaliated against two key HHS cybersecurity officials and whether those actions weakened the federal agency’s role in responding to healthcare cybersecurity incidents.

Large Physician Group Joins Michigan’s Growing Statewide HIE Network

Oakland Physician Network Services (OPNS) has joined the Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services (MiHIN), a statewide health information network that continues to grow with now its 13th health information exchange qualified organization.

Survey Indicates Major Jump in Telemedicine Adoption in Past Three Years

A new survey shows broad acceptance of telemedicine services among health care executives and providers compared to just three years ago as 76 percent of healthcare professionals said their organizations currently offer or plan to offer telemedicine services.