Originally published: March 21, 2011
Last updated: March 21, 2011 - 9:05pm
On March 8, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) introduced a bill (S 501) that would create pilot programs to provide incentive payments to home health agencies that use telehealth technology to improve health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries and reduce spending.
Sen Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is a lead co-sponsor of the Fostering Independence Through Technology Act of 2011. If you are getting a sense of déjà vu, that's for good reason. Sen Thune introduced the same bill in 2005, 2007 and 2009, according to AshLee Strong, Thune's press secretary. None of the bills made it past the Senate Finance Committee. In addition, there was an amendment to include the FITT Act in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, "but it didn't get voted on because Democrats limited consideration of amendments," Strong said. The legislation has bipartisan support, as well as the backing of many organizations from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice to the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, the country's largest not-for-profit provider of senior care and services. Still, it's unclear whether the fate of this year's bill will be any different from past years.
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