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Kennedy, Upton, Blunt Rochester Introduce Modernized Medicine Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As health providers increasingly rely on telehealth to treat patients, U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (MI-06),  Joe Kennedy III (MA-04), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL) introduced the Modernized Medicine Act to temporarily increase Medicaid reimbursement rates during a declared emergency if a state expands their telehealth services. This increase in the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) would help take the financial burden off states and would open up access to providers, and keep patients and providers safe.

“Telemedicine services in Michigan and in states across the nation are vital to protecting the public health and safety during this global pandemic,” said Upton. “This bipartisan legislation is simply common sense and urges states to expand telehealth services, helping to keep both patients and our health care workers safe. I’d encourage the House to advance this bill, give our health care system another tool to help patients, and get it across the finish line.”

“No patient should be denied access to modernized health care and telemedicine, especially during a public health emergency, because reimbursement rates are too low for providers to expand services,” said Kennedy. “For our neighbors, loved ones and friends living with chronic health conditions and other medical needs, those challenges don’t disappear during a pandemic, if anything, they become more urgent. By increasing these FMAP rates, we will ensure providers can bring innovative care directly into their patients’ homes in times of crisis. Along with Congressman Upton and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, we will help expand telemedicine across the country and move our health care system into the 21st century.” 

 “We know that now, more than ever, having effective and efficient telemedicine services across the country is critical to the health and well-being of our constituents. The Modernized Medicine Act incentivizes states to expand their telemedicine services during a public health emergency, like the one we’re facing now,” said Blunt Rochester. “I’m proud to join Rep. Kennedy in introducing the Modernized Medicine Act to help expand telemedicine across the United States.”

Last month, Kennedy and Upton asked Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to encourage states to cover all telemedicine services and work with them to expand their capability to do so in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this week, Blunt Rochester led calls on CMS to expand the types of providers eligible to furnish telehealth services under Medicare during the COVID-19 pandemic to include physical therapy practitioners, occupational therapy practitioners, speech language pathologists (SLPs), and audiologists.

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