A good week for telehealth in Senate committee hearings (US)

In contrast to last week’s deletion of telemedicine by the House Energy and Commerce committee from  ’21st Century Cures’, this past Tuesday’s Senate Commerce subcommittee on Communications hearing was far more cheering for both telehealth and telemedicine advocates. More than twelve Senators spoke on behalf of telehealth expansion, especially Medicare reimbursement for telehealth in rural areas where there is limited care access. Holding this expansion back, according to iHealthBeat, are four factors: the limited cross-state licensing for physicians; the sluggishness of the Federal Communications Commission–despite initiatives such as Connect2HealthFCC [TTA 6 Mar 14], the FCC has blocked subsidies for nursing home broadband; reimbursement and limited broadband access in the same rural areas which would benefit most from remote monitoring. Concurrently, two Mississippi Senators, Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran, have reintroduced the Telehealth Advancement Act to improve Medicare reimbursements and rural service. Neil Versel in MedCityNews However, before we get too excited, we should remember that the House has budget authority, not the Senate. POLITICO Morning eHealth, advocacy group Health IT Now’s blog.

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