The bipartisan Home Health Emergency Access to Telehealth (HEAT) Act, introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), if passed, would provide Medicare reimbursement for audio and video telehealth services furnished by home health agencies during the COVID-19 emergency and future public health emergencies. Companion legislation also was introduced in the House of Representatives.
“The COVID-19 emergency has further underscored the critical importance of home health services and highlighted how these agencies are able to use telehealth to provide skilled care to their patients,” said Collins, the chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “This bipartisan bill would ensure that seniors retain access to remote home health services during the COVID-19 emergency and future public health emergencies.”
The services would not be reimbursed unless the beneficiary consented to receiving the services via telehealth. Further, to ensure that the Medicare home health benefit does not become a telehealth-only benefit, Medicare reimbursement would be provided only if the telehealth services constituted no more than half of the billable visits made during the 30-day payment period.