WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV) introduced H.R. 8505, legislation that would permanently allow the continuation of hospice recertification via telehealth. A two-year extension of this virtual hospice provision was included in H.R. 4040, which passed the House 416 to 12.
“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of virtual health care remains,” said Congresswoman Miller. “Telehealth resources being extended to hospice are especially vital to the wellbeing of our rural communities, where doctors’ offices and hospitals may require hours’ worth of driving to make appointments. By making those visits more efficient, providers can care for more patients and beneficiaries can have better access. I am pleased to lead this legislation to modernize hospice care and ensure patients and professionals can utilize this important resource remotely.”
“Low-touch administrative visits like those required prior to reauthorization for hospice care are a great use of telehealth because this use does not diminish the quality of patient care,” said Hospice Council of West Virginia executive director, Jessica Hall. “In predominantly rural states like West Virginia, the extension of these flexibilities allow medically vulnerable patients to stay safe, physicians and nurses to spend time with patients instead of in the car, and loved ones to participate in the care of their family no matter where they are.”
The Affordable Care Act established that the certifying hospice physician or nurse practitioner must have a face to face encounter with every Medicare hospice patient to determine the continued eligibility of that patient prior to the 180 day recertification and every subsequent 60 day recertification.
In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allowed hospices to perform these face-to-face visits via telehealth for the duration of the Public Health Emergency. Given the reported high patient satisfaction and benefits to efficiency of care of this expansion, H.R. 8505 makes the use of telehealth for recertification permanent.
Visit https://miller.house.gov/sites/evo-subsites/miller.house.gov/files/evo-media-document/PERM-TELE-HOSPICE_xml%5b74%5d.pdf for the full text of the legislation.