Although Congressional actions on the bipartisan infrastructure package passed by the Senate and the President’s reconciliation bill to advance his social spending plans are still ongoing, we anticipate that making certain telehealth provisions permanent will be back on the radar screen before the end of the year.
We have heard an end-of-year package may include telehealth provisions with strong bipartisan support and provisions included in the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act (H.R. 2903 and S.1512) may be taken out and added to this larger package. We do not anticipate the entire CONNECT Act will be enacted because of the anticipated cost of the legislation. Given the broad bipartisan support for Sections 303 and 304 of the CONNECT for Health Act and the imperative to continually support our nation’s most vulnerable patients who benefit from expanded telehealth services, we want Congress to know the provisions that are important to respiratory therapists and their patients.
AARC has reached out to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, e.g., committees of jurisdiction, to advocate for including sections 303 and 304 of the CONNECT for Health Act as part of a larger healthcare package moving forward this calendar year. Section 303 will allow respiratory therapists to participate in innovative payment models that include virtual services and expand access to Medicare beneficiaries who do not currently have the benefit of their expertise, which Is critical for improving the health outcomes of patients diagnosed with COPD, COVID-19, and other respiratory conditions. Section 304 gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the ability to test specific telehealth delivery models that could include respiratory therapists and provide for the collection of data that can demonstrate the value they bring to the healthcare system by improving patient outcomes through chronic care disease management services.
In our detailed letters to both the House and Senate, we highlight how the pandemic has expanded telehealth access delivered by respiratory therapists under the public health emergency, while emphasizing that it is insufficient to improve beneficiary access to vital respiratory care services that can improve health outcomes via telehealth in a post-pandemic scenario. We plan to have a targeted campaign to members of these committees in the fall and will keep members posted through our CONNECT communities.
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