On April 6, Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced the CHRONIC Care Act of 2017, S. 870. The bill is an updated version of legislation Hatch introduced in December 2016 and includes a section that would expand the ability of Medicare beneficiaries on home dialysis to receive required monthly clinical assessments using telehealth, beginning in 2019.

Currently, home dialysis patients can use telehealth to receive a monthly clinical assessment only if it occurs in an authorized originating site (including a physician office and hospital-based dialysis facility) and the site is located in a rural Health Professional Shortage Area or area county outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The CHRONIC Care Act would expand the number of originating sites for monthly clinical assessments to include freestanding dialysis facilities and the patient’s home, and lifts the geographic restrictions, beginning in 2019. Home dialysis patients would be required to have a face-to-face assessment with a nephrologist at least once every three months.

“Given the impact of chronic disease facing so many Americans in their daily lives, KCP applauds the Working Group’s efforts to recommend policies that will measurably improve access to quality care and expand treatment choice,” said Frank Maddux, MD, chair of Kidney Care Partners.

The bill was created by the Senate Finance Committee Chronic Care Working Group, which was formed in May 2015 to explore cost-effective solutions to improve health outcomes for Medicare patients living with one or more chronic conditions. Read more on the bill here.

Bill cosponsors include Senators Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Tom Carper, D-Del., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, John Cornyn, R-Texas,, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa,, Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and John Thune, R-S.D.