Press Releases

Kuster, Smith Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Telehealth Services in Nursing Facilities

Washington, DC, March 12, 2020

This week, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Rep. Adrian Smith (NE-03) introduced the Reducing Unnecessary Senior Hospitalizations (RUSH) Act of 2020 in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would increase access and use of telehealth services in skilled nursing facilities. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Senate companion version of the bill.

“Unnecessary hospital stays can place a significant financial burden on providers and senior patients alike,” said Kuster. “The RUSH Act will reduce this burden, cut down on costs, and expand access to care in our rural communities through telehealth options – all while reducing the risk of patients contracting an infection in a hospital. I’m pleased to join my colleagues to introduce this commonsense legislation and I will continue working to improve health care delivery across the Granite State.”

“South Dakota has led the way in utilization of telehealth, and the RUSH Act acknowledges the success we have seen from using technology to coordinate care for seniors in nursing facilities,” said Thune. “By establishing a voluntary Medicare alternative payment model, the RUSH Act creates the right incentives for nursing facilities to work with a provider group to adopt telehealth to reduce avoidable emergency department visits.

“Greater use of telehealth in skilled nursing facilities will benefit patients and doctors, reducing expensive and unnecessary hospital visits,” said Cardin. “I’m proud to be a partner on the bipartisan RUSH Act that will continue to increase the availability of telehealth through Medicare and help deliver better health outcomes across the country.” 

“The RUSH Act brings needed innovation to Medicare, lifts burdensome regulations, and will ultimately benefit patients,” said Smith. “This legislation builds on new technologies and improved connectivity to use telehealth in skilled nursing facilities, allowing patients to be treated in place rather than transferring them to a hospital. This bipartisan bill will help transform rural health care and improve lives.”

The RUSH Act would allow Medicare to enter into voluntary, value-based arrangements with medical groups to provide acute care to patients in skilled nursing facilities using a combination of telehealth and on-site staff. Working together to coordinate care, the providers can avoid a more costly patient transfer to the emergency department.