Health IT Now Applauds Introduction of the RUSH Act

Bill would leverage the power of telehealth to reduce avoidable hospitalizations from skilled nursing facilities. 

WASHINGTON, DC (July 25, 2018): Health IT Now - a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers supporting health information technology to improve patient outcomes - responded today to the introduction of the bipartisan Reducing Unnecessary Senior Hospitalizations (RUSH) Act of 2018. (H.R. 6502)

The legislation will be a top legislative priority of Health IT Now and would significantly reduce hospital admissions from skilled nursing facilities - 45% of which are estimated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to be unnecessary - by allowing Medicare to selectively enter into value-based arrangements with medical groups to provide acute care at skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) using a combination of a telehealth connection to an emergency physician and on-site first responders.

Health IT Now Executive Director Joel White and Chief Economist Jeff Lemieux proposed such a model earlier this year in a column for Health Affairs. 

The RUSH Act of 2018 is sponsored by Reps. Adrian Smith (R-NE), Diane Black (R-TN), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). 

White released the following statement:

“CMS has estimated that 45 percent of hospital transfers from nursing homes could have been avoided but, facing limited on-site diagnostics and inadequate physician resources, these facilities are forced to continue a 'better safe than sorry' practice of sending patients to the hospital. This raises costs for taxpayers and can be debilitating and expensive for patients. Indeed, roughly one in 5 patients admitted to a SNF will end up in an emergency room within 30 days," said HITN Executive Director Joel White. "Technology has an answer to this alarming trend. The RUSH Act will bring Medicare fee-for-service into the 21st century by allowing value-based contracts with medical groups who provide high-quality, on-site emergency care facilitated by a telehealth connection. This should help stem the flow of patients from nursing home to hospital by treating patients in place."

White concluded, "We thank Representatives Adrian Smith, Diane Black, Joe Crowley, Morgan Griffith, and Ben Ray Luján for their bold leadership on this measure and look forward to an aggressive advocacy campaign to secure its passage before year's end." 

About Health IT Now: Health IT Now (HITN) is a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers that supports incentives to deploy health information technology to improve care, patient outcomes, and to lower costs. Learn more at www.healthitnow.org.

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