Telehealth expansion bill gets a push from home care group

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is advocating for a bill in Congress that would incentivize home care agencies, which often are owned by hospitals, to offer telehealth services.

The Foster Independence Through Technology (FITT) Act of 2011 (S. 501) seeks to "expand the use of telehealth under Medicare by offering incentives to home health agencies who demonstrate the use of remote monitoring and communication technologies that serve rural and underserved urban communities," according to NAHC. Introduced by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the measure would:

  • Create pilot programs to provide incentives for home health agencies to use home monitoring and communications technologies;
  • Identify performance target methodologies for home health agencies participating in the pilot programs;
  • Provide incentive payments to each participating home care agency equal to a portion of the Medicare savings relative to the performance targets.

No incentive payments will be paid to the participants of these pilot projects unless savings have been documented, a background paper says. It is unclear whether the home care agencies would have to make the initial investments in remote patient monitoring before receiving any incentives.

The background paper also notes that the Department of Veterans Affairs achieved substantial reductions in hospital admissions and bed days by using remote monitoring devices. "The FITT bill seeks to extend these positive benefits from remote monitoring to home health care services provided through the Medicare program," the NAHC states. 

To learn more:
- see the NAHC message
- read the FITT background paper (.pdf)
- here's the bill

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