Bipartisan Budget Deal Expands Funding for Telehealth

The end of last week turned out to be a bit of a rollercoaster as the US Congress attempted to pass their 2018 budget plan, thereby avoiding yet another government shutdown. In the very late hours of Thursday night, things were looking rather bleak as a government shutdown activated for the second time in less than a month. Luckily, the shutdown did not last long (only about five hours, in fact). The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892) had already been passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 240 in favor and 186 opposed. While certainly not an overwhelming majority, it was enough to get the bill moved on to the Senate, which is where it hit a snag as a number of both Democrat and Republican Senators refused to support it. Lawmakers worked through the night, however, and by the very early hours of Friday morning, they managed to pull it all together. The US Senate managed to approve the bill by a close vote, cutting the shutdown short in time to minimize any negative effects. Shortly thereafter, President Trump signed the budget into law.

Politics aside, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892) includes four significant provisions that will greatly improve the delivery and expansion of telehealth services in the United States:

50302 – Expanding Access to Home Dialysis Therapy

  • This provision allows Medicare beneficiaries an option by which they may elect to receive in-home dialysis monthly as well as ESRD-related clinical assessments via telehealth services.

50323 – Increasing Convenience for Medicare Advantage Enrollees through Telehealth

  • This provision states that, beginning in plan year 2020, a new medial assistant plan may be able to provide additional telehealth benefits to Medicare enrollees.

50324 – Providing Accountable Care Organizations the Ability to Expand the Use of Telehealth

  • Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will now be able to waive restrictions on the use of telehealth from 1834(m) of the Social Security Act, which placed limits on how and under what conditions telehealth services could be used by beneficiaries.

50325 – Expanding the Use of Telehealth for Individuals with Stroke

  • Further expanding the use of Telestroke services, this provision waives 1834(m) restrictions on the treatment of stroke through telehealth services.

While many may be feeling frustrated with our current political climate, it is at least somewhat heartening to know that the use of modern telehealth technology continues to improve and expand, allowing providers and physicians to speed care when it is needed most. For stroke victims, expedited treatment means better odds at survival and improved chances for high quality of life after.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.