Rep. Cox Introduces Bipartisan Legislation Expanding Telehealth Services to Medicare Patients with COPD

May 7, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Representatives TJ Cox (D-CA),  Mike Thompson (D-CA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), and Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) recently introduced H.R. 2508, the Better Respiration through Expanded Access to Tele-Health (BREATHE) Act. This bipartisan legislation will designate a three-year pilot program allowing qualified Respiratory Therapists to serve as telehealth practitioners to deliver disease management services to Medicare patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The three-year pilot program will allow Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to evaluate the value of Respiratory Therapists as telehealth practitioners in reducing utilization and costs, while improving outcomes for patients with COPD.


“I was proud to join my colleagues across the aisle in introducing legislation that will increase telehealth access for our nations’ seniors living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” said Cox. “It’s critical now more than ever that we expand telehealth services and ensure all Americans have equal access to the best care and treatments no matter where they live. Through patient education, self-management assistance and timely access to care, this bill ensures patients can receive care in the comfort of their own home, while reducing the financial burden on Medicare. I’m committed to working with my colleagues in the House to ensure this bill becomes law.”


“Seniors with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) face taxing conditions and expensive treatments and they must receive the best possible care. That’s why I joined with my colleagues, Representatives TJ Cox, Mike Kelly, and Buddy Carter, to introduce the BREATHE Act, legislation authorizing a pilot program for respiratory therapists to provide services via telehealth to seniors with COPD,” said Thompson. This is an innovative, cost-effective approach that will both expand patients’ access to care and allow us to study how patients benefit from telehealth programs. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this important legislation.”


“As the only health professionals to be trained in all aspects of pulmonary medicine, respiratory therapists provide a vital service to Americans suffering from these conditions,” said Kelly. “Current law does not qualify these medical professionals to deliver disease management via telehealth services, despite how effective such services are for patients. This bill fixes that problem and will increase access to healthcare and reduce costs for America’s seniors! I am a proud sponsor of this legislation.”


 “This legislation will help to increase critical access to care for seniors who need it,” said Carter. “As the only pharmacist in Congress, I understand how important it is to provide innovative and affordable solutions for health care needs and this legislation will work to accomplish this. I am glad to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we work to move this critical legislation forward.”


“Congressman Cox’s bill will help Medicare beneficiaries better serve COPD patients in the Central Valley by providing access to innovative telehealth services that will deliver quality treatment in a cost-effective way,” said Theresa Cantu, PICU/ED Clinical Respiratory Specialist at Valley Children’s Hospital. As a Respiratory Specialist, I know firsthand how critical these services are for the health of COPD patients who live in rural communities and face unique barriers to receiving timely care. Sponsors of the BREATHE Act understand that telemedicine will improve healthcare delivery and provide the best outcome for our nations’ seniors.”


COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and is the fourth most costly condition with respect to hospital readmissions. In the State of California there are 4.1 million people suffering from pulmonary disease. According to the American Lung Association’s recent State of the Air 2019 report, cities in California’s 21st Congressional District are among the most polluted in the nation.



Full Bill Text Here.

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