Legislation in the U.S. Senate was re-introduced that would expand the use of telehealth technology under Medicare to reduce hospital re-admissions in rural and underserved communities across the country. The bipartisan Fostering Independence Through Technology (FITT) Act (S. 596) would create pilot programs to provide incentives for home health agencies to use remote patient monitoring technology to better monitor Medicare beneficiaries, improve health outcomes, and reduce Medicare expenditures.
The FITT Act was previously introduced in Congress, and last year Florida Sen. Bill Nelson cosponsored the legislation. Click here to call on Senator Nelson and Senator Marco Rubio to cosponsor the FITT Act for the Medicare beneficiaries who depend on high quality, cost-effective home health services.
The FITT Act is designed to be budget-neutral, and must demonstrate cost-savings in Medicare. Specifically, the FITT Act would:
• Create pilot programs to provide incentives for home health agencies to use home monitoring technologies and services to enhance health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries and reduce Medicare expenditures
• Establish project sites in both urban and rural areas
•Identify various performance target methodologies for home health agencies participating in the pilot programs for Medicare parts A, B and D
•Provide incentive payments to each participating home care agency equal to a portion of the Medicare savings relative to the performance targets
•Request that the Secretary report to Congress on the pilot in three years
•Enable the Secretary to expand to additional pilot projects if health outcomes are enhanced and Medicare savings are realized
“This innovative RPM technology has the ability to revolutionize patient care and dramatically reduce the amount of money Medicare spends on hospital re-admissions each year,” said Sen. Thune (R-SD). “Not only could this technology reduce costs and improve health outcomes, but it also offers patients the individual freedom to stay in their homes, reducing costs associated with nursing homes and long-term care facilities. I’m pleased to have worked with many industry stakeholders in developing this legislation over the past few years, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this legislation through Congress.”
“Telehealth technology is critical to reducing health care costs and ensuring that all Minnesotans have access to high-quality and affordable health care,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “By expanding the use of innovative home care technology, this legislation will make health care more efficient and will allow seniors to stay in their homes longer without jeopardizing their health, safety or access to health care professionals.”
Due to recent changes in law, hospitals are now subject to payment penalties when a Medicare beneficiary is re-admitted to a hospital within a prescribed period with a complication that is preventable. Currently, about one in five Medicare patients who are hospitalized end up back in the hospital within 30 days, which creates significant unnecessary costs. RPM technology allows patients to be more closely monitored using non-invasive methods to help address possible post-hospitalization complications before they result in a re-admission.
Thune and Klobuchar’s legislation has the support of HCAF, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, the Home Care Technology Association of America, the National Rural Health Association, HealthEverywhere, and the American Hospital Association.