Medicare could cover remote monitoring

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Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. Source:  

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., along with seven other bipartisan co-sponsors, introduced the Medicare Remote Monitoring Access Act of 2008 this month, which proposes Medicare be required to cover remote monitoring services for patients with chronic health conditions.

The bill, H.R. 5765, proposes to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to cover remote patient management services for heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia. It also proposes to create a demonstration program to evaluate the potential coverage of these services for diabetes, epilepsy and sleep apnea, according to FDA News.

“We applaud Rep. Eshoo’s leadership on this issue. Introduction of the Remote Monitoring Access Act means physicians may finally be reimbursed for the remote care they provide for elderly, disabled, and rural patients, and encourage further use of these lifesaving and life-enhancing technologies that improve patient care and reduce costs,” said Stephen J. Ubl, president and CEO of the Advanced Medical Technology Association.

If the bill passes, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) would work with stakeholders to develop remote monitoring standards by Jan. 1, 2010, for heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia.

On April 10, the bill was referred to the House committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means.

According to Ubl, the legislation is an important step in fighting chronic disease. “The legislation requires Medicare to cover remote monitoring services used to manage care for patients with congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia. It also requires CMS to work with stakeholders to develop a standard of care for using remote monitoring for those conditions,” he said.

“What was once only science fiction is now patient care reality. With remote monitoring technologies, a physician can evaluate and manage complex chronic diseases from remote locations and provide real-time care for patients. Unfortunately, the adoption and widespread diffusion of such innovations have been stymied by antiquated reimbursement systems,” Ubl added.