Congress Considers Two New Telehealth Bills Expanding Access to Virtual Care

Earlier this month, two telehealth bills intended to expand patient access to virtual healthcare were introduced to the United States Congress.  Each bill seeks to continue building upon the availability of certain telehealth services that existed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first bill, known as the Kidney Health Connect Act, is designed to allow patients with end-stage renal disease to obtain treatment virtually from their providers.  Importantly, if the Kidney Health Connect Act is passed into law, it will allow dialysis clinics to serve as originating sites for Medicare telehealth services.  In addition, the bill would remove a 20% facility fee coinsurance obligation for patients obtaining services through telehealth.

The second bill, which is titled the Connecting Rural Telehealth to the Future Act, would extend all temporary telehealth provisions included in the fiscal year 2022 omnibus for two additional years (i.e., until December 31, 2024).  The bill would also allow the use of audio technologies, restore rural health clinic and federally qualified health center reimbursements for telehealth to standard reimbursement methods, and continue to allow critical access hospitals to directly bill for telehealth.

Ultimately, the introduction of new legislation seeking to expand the scope of telehealth services available is a win for patients.  The COVID-19 Pandemic has shown that access to healthcare is critical and access to telehealth services is vital to improving patient healthcare outcomes.  In addition, states such as Alabama, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania have passed or are attempting to pass legislation increasing accessibility to telehealth services.  However, as access to telehealth services continues to increase resulting from new or pending legislation, providers must be more cognizant than ever that their telehealth services are provided in compliance with what can be a complex web of regulations and statutes that impose both civil and criminal liability for any violations.

How Frier Levitt Can Help

Frier Levitt will continue to monitor any new proposed legislation and regulations related to telehealth.  Frier Levitt has advised providers and technology companies on developing and restructuring telehealth business models to comply with applicable law while considering obstacles such as insurance reimbursement concerns that are unique to each arrangement.  If you or your company is considering implementing telehealth, contact us to speak to an attorney who can comprehensively evaluate and recommend a compliant, sustainable model.