Legislation Introduced on the Hill

On May 28th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unveiled draft legislation to repeal the current Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) system and replace it with a stable system of physician payment in the Medicare program. The Subcommittee on Health has scheduled a hearing on the draft legislation on June 5.

The draft legislation would repeal SGR and in return replace it with an improved fee for service system where providers would work with the HHS Secretary to develop quality measures that would lead to better care in a more efficient manner. In addition, providers would have the option of leaving the fee for service system and opt instead for new ways of delivering care that would emphasize quality and efficient care.   

In other legislative action, Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Charles Rangel (D-NY) plus co-sponsors, introduced H.R 2001 “Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support Act of 2013” or “VETS Act” on May 23, 2013. The bipartisan bill is directed to increasing veterans’ access to care and to expanding the use of telemedicine at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VETS Act allows credentialed VA health professionals to practice telemedicine across state lines. The bill removes licensure requirements mandating that healthcare professionals be licensed in every state where the care is received. This will expand the number of qualified health professionals able to treat the veteran population.

Under the VETS Act, veterans seeking treatment or services will no longer be required to travel to a VA facility. Veterans would have the option of accessing services including telemedicine over the phone or online regardless of their physical locations.

On the Senate side, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced “Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act of 2013” (S.945) on May 14th. The legislation would improve access to Diabetes Self Management Training (DSMT) by authorizing certified diabetes educators to provide DSMT.

The legislation would make it possible to provide the training via telehealth under Part B of the Medicare program. The net savings to the Medicare program by ensuring that beneficiaries have access to quality DSMT is estimated to be $2,000,000,000 over ten years.

For more information, go to www.thomas.gov.

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