CONNECT for Health Act Recently Reintroduced

Center for Connected Health Policy

May 2021

CCHP Breaks Down Key Elements in New Fact Sheet

The “Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021” was recently introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). Having authored previous iterations of this bill, Senator Schatz notes that this Act will promote higher quality of care, increased access to care and reduce spending in Medicare through the expansion of telehealth services. Thus far, it has received bipartisan support from the majority of his fellow Senators.

The CONNECT Act was clearly drafted to take into consideration some of the temporary telehealth policy changes installed in response to COVID-19 and some of the issues that have arisen in the past year. Among the provisions that are more directly related to the pandemic changes that would be made permanent are:
*Removing in Medicare the geographic and site limitations
*Allowing federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and
rural health clinics (RHCs) to be distant site providers in Medicare and receiving their prospective payment services (PPS) rate
*In Medicare, geographic limitations will not be applied to Indian Health Services (IHS) facilities and when providing emergency care

Additionally, the bill would provide to the Secretary of Health and Human Services the ability to waive telehealth limitations without having to wait for Congress. This waiver power would be significant as several other barriers in Medicare telehealth policy are not in the bill for permanent changes. For example, aside from adding FQHCs and RHCs to the eligible provider list, no other health care professionals were such as occupational therapists. It should be noted though, this waiver power would also allow the Secretary to set up policies that could involve limit the reach of the waiver and the amount reimbursed for the services.

CCHP’s CONNECT Act fact sheet:

The bill’s summary: