Ways and Means Advances Telehealth and Rural Health Bills | Heart Rhythm Society

Ways and Means Advances Telehealth and Rural Health Bills

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means convened on May 8th to markup six bills aimed at expanding access to telehealth and improving health care in rural and underserved communities.

Legislative Updates

Among the bills advanced by the committee was the Preserving Telehealth, Hospital, and Ambulance Access Act (H.R.8261). This legislation would preserve Medicare patients' access to telehealth flexibilities through 2026 and hospital-at-home services through 2029 and also extend Medicare add-on payments for urban, rural, and super-rural areas to preserve access to emergency ambulance services.

The bill specifically extends COVID-era flexibilities around geographic and originating site requirements, the practitioners eligible to provide telehealth services, the provision of telehealth by Federally-Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics, and the furnishing of audio-only telehealth. The bill is offset in part by reforms to the pharmacy benefit manager industry. H.R.8261 was advanced by a vote of 41-0. Other bills considered by the committee include:

  • The PEAKS Act (H.R.7931), to increase coverage for emergency ambulance services provided by critical access hospitals, advanced in a 24-18 vote.
  • The Rural Hospital Stabilization Act (H.R.8245), to establish stabilization grants for rural hospitals facing potential closure, advanced in a 24-18 vote.
  • The Ensuring Seniors' Access to Quality Care Act (H.R.8244), to permit nursing homes that have incurred certain fines to continue operating certified nursing aid training programs, advanced in a 25-18 vote.
  • The Rural Physician Workforce Preservation Act (H.R.8235), to ensure a portion of the newly established Medicare graduate medical education slots are dedicated to truly rural hospitals, advanced in a 24-16 vote.
  • The Second Chances for Rural Hospitals Act (H.R.8246), to expand eligibility for the rural emergency hospital designation, advanced in a 24-16 vote.

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