On October 30, HIMSS and PCHAlliance, a HIMSS innovation company, sent a joint letter to Capitol Hill formally endorsing the updated Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2019. This comprehensive bipartisan, bicameral legislation makes critical and thoughtful reforms to the Medicare program by expanding access to evidence-based telehealth services to better meet the diverse needs of Medicare beneficiaries. The bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and Representatives. HIMSS and PCHAlliance have long prioritized efforts to modernize Medicare by harnessing information and technology to improve care delivery and coordination, expand access to care, and help reduce spending.
The CONNECT for Health Act of 2019 would remove many of the outdated and overly burdensome restrictions on Medicare telehealth services (defined as a real-time audio and video communication between provider and patient), which have been in place since 2000, by giving the HHS Secretary authority to waive restrictions found in 1834(m) of the Social Security Act. The waiver authority would address barriers such as geographic, provider, and originating site limitations that have long denied many Medicare beneficiaries access to high-quality care when and where they need it most. Additionally, the bill would expand telehealth access for vital mental health services, support the use of telehealth during national and public health emergencies, and address other important aspects to expand access to quality healthcare for Medicare beneficiaries.
HIMSS and PCHAlliance were instrumental in the development of the updated CONNECT for Health Act of 2019. In April 2019, HIMSS and PCHAlliance submitted joint comments on a Request for Information from congressional offices on telehealth proposals, which contained five unique policy recommendations, including the national emergencies proposal that was ultimately included in the legislation. During the drafting of the legislation, HIMSS and PCHAlliance engaged in advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and provided key technical assistance to the bill sponsors.