Medical Innovation Legislation Includes Hospice, Telehealth & Caregiver Support


[The week before last], as a long-awaited follow-up to the transformative 2016 21st Century Cures Act, Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) released text of a discussion draft for what is being referred to as CURES 2.0 legislation. (Bill text is HERE; summary is HERE.) While the bill’s primary focus is on advancing the country’s biomedical innovation infrastructure, it includes a number of provisions relevant to NAHC members and home-based care stakeholders.

CURES 2.0 includes the bipartisan Telehealth Modernization Act (H.R. 1332), which would:

  • Permanently allow for the required face-to-face recertification for the Medicare hospice benefit to be carried out via telehealth
  • Permanently remove Medicare’s geographic and originating site restrictions on telehealth
  • Give the HHS Secretary authority to permanently expand the types of health care providers that can offer telehealth services and the types of services that can be reimbursed under Medicare.
  • Permanently allow for the required face-to-face clinical assessment visits for home dialysis treatment to be carried out via telehealth

The draft legislation also includes provisions that would create a new HHS grant program focused on informal caregiver training and support, including education around medication management, therapeutic regimen adherence for a loved one or friend, nutrition planning, and other services delivered in the home.

To address some of the health disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic, the draft bill includes a number of provisions aimed at increasing health literacy amongst underserved populations, including a solicitation for ideas around how CMS can encourage health literacy interventions through Medicare payment policies.

While the release of the discussion draft is an important step for a bill that includes major biomedical policies with the support of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as well as the President himself, the broader legislation’s path forward remains unclear at this time. It is expected that a formal bill will be introduced sometime in the Fall after Congress’ August recess.

NAHC will engage with the sponsoring offices to ensure the important care-related provisions remain in the final package and we will update you in NAHC Report with new developments.