Last week, we shared with our clients a legislative side-by-side (SBS) of our top five telehealth bills to watch for the remainder of the 116th Congress.
Of the bills identified, we suggested that the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act of 2019 – introduced by Democratic sponsors in both the House and Senate – may be in the best position to move with the extenders package that must be passed this coming May.
The bill has bipartisan support and was included in Section 404 of the Senate HELP Committee’s Lower Health Care Costs Act. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the HELP Committee and sponsor of the Lower Health Care Costs Act, is highly motivated to pass health care legislation before retiring at the end of the term and is open to compromise to get a deal done.
The ECHO Act of 2019 seeks to operationalize the findings of a report about the earlier 2016 ECHO Act. Because the report provides a solid rationale for continuing support of this initiative, and because the legislation builds on previous Congressional action, WHG senses it may be a proposal that is palatable to an increasingly divided Congress.
If passed, the ECHO Act of 2019 would establish a grant program to “develop, evaluate, and expand the use of technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models.” The legislation calls for $20 million in appropriations to fund the grants each fiscal year for five years, from 2020 through 2024.
Other bills to watch aside from the ECHO Act of 2019 include the: Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act; CONNECT for Health Act of 2019; BREATHE Act; and, National Telehealth Strategy and Data Advancement Act.
Lauren Testa is an Associate Vice President at Wynne Health Group, focusing primarily on regulatory affairs with a focus on Medicare reimbursement as well as other key issues for providers and health plans. She is passionate about human-centered payment and delivery system innovation in health care. You can reach Lauren via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.