Proposed Legislation Expands Option for Home Clinic Visits by Telehealth

This blog post was made by Beth Witten, MSW, ACSW, LSCSW on January 5th, 2017.
Proposed Legislation Expands Option for Home Clinic Visits by Telehealth

What Is This Bill?

On December 6, 2016, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced in the Senate S. 3504, the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2016.1 Starting in 2018, the bill proposes to make it possible for home dialysis patients to use telehealth for some clinic visits—from the comfort of their homes or from a dialysis clinic—as long as they see a doctor face-to-face once every 3 months.

What Is Telehealth?

Medicare says that Telehealth is “services, like office visits and consultations that are provided using an interactive 2-way telecommunications system (with real-time audio and video) by a doctor or certain other health care provider who isn’t at your location.”2

Why Does This Matter?

Now, home patients must visit their clinics once a month, where they can be seen by the nurse, social worker, dietitian, and doctor. Many home dialysis patients have lives outside of dialysis…that’s one of the reasons why they chose to do dialysis at home vs. coming to a clinic! Because they have jobs, families, and other obligations, and some live far away from their home clinics, some patients don’t keep all their clinic appointments.

Medicare does not yet allow a patient’s home or a dialysis clinic to be an “originating site” for telehealth, and Medicare only covers telehealth from certain provider types, such as a doctor’s office, hospital, or skilled nursing facility. At this time, only those in rural areas or outside metropolitan areas can receive telehealth under Medicare.

What Can You Do?

This bill was introduced at the end of the 114th session of Congress. Bills that were not passed during a congressional session do not carry over. They can only be heard and passed if they are re-introduced. The 115th session of Congress starts on January 3, 2017 and ends 2 years later. Call or write your senator and representative about how much a bill like this would help you or your patients. Find out how to contact your senator or representative here. You can find tips for writing your federal legislator here.


  1. S. 3504, Section 102, pages 3-6. https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s3504/BILLS-114s3504is.pdf. Accessed December 20, 2016.

  2. Medicare Telehealth. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth.html. Accessed December 20, 2016

Comments

  • Robin Franzi

    Jan 5, 9:32 PM

    Clinic was always a waste of time and non-productive. I was given the same informational sheets of paper over again, whether they pertained to me or not, and made to take labs I could have done at home. If clinic time as actually spent on discussing how my INDIVIDUAL dialysis treatment was progressing and helping me, it would be worth it remotely or otherwise. As for the doctor, I currently see mine monthly, so this would be a cut in service. My doctor DOES help me with issues that come up, and once a month is sometimes lacking depending on how much is going on. However, I totally support skipping the traffic if the same quality can be accomplished either way. The question is, will it totally replace in-person visits? At my doctor's, she checks my ankles for fluid, looks into my mouth, checks my lungs, etc. She can check me out. I would think once in a while this would be valuable? Feeling a bit conflicted on completely losing face-to-face contact.....would be interested in hearing other thoughts on the issue.

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  • John agar

    Jan 5, 3:22 PM

    Now you're talking ... finally!

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