WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Diane Black (R-TN), and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced the bipartisan Reducing Unnecessary Senior Hospitalization Act (RUSH) Act of 2018, H.R. 6502, to improve access to care at skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).
SNFs are often faced with few options to treat residents in need of emergency care, leading to excessive and costly hospital transfers. However, allowing medical professionals already working within these facilities to provide needed emergency care through telehealth, the RUSH Act will offer Medicare recipients better access to care at a lower cost to taxpayers.
“Currently, most nursing homes are not equipped to handle even minor emergencies. This means most patients are sent via ambulance to a hospital emergency room at any sign of emergency. This can be expensive and hard on patients and their families – especially in rural areas,” Luján said. “The RUSH Act provides an exciting new opportunity to allow technology to bridge the gaps for patients and providers in nursing homes across the country.”
“When our family members are not receiving the care they need or deserve, it is incumbent on Congress to act. The RUSH Act harnesses medical advancements and innovations to allow for extraordinary medical care remotely at a dramatically lower price for patients,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Crowley said.
“The RUSH Act presents a great opportunity for government to step back and allow innovation to solve a problem which has restricted access to care at nursing homes for decades,” Smith said. “Telehealth capacity has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years and I’m excited to see what the future holds as more burdensome regulations are lifted and the American entrepreneurial spirit is unleashed on the healthcare industry.”
“As a registered nurse for more than 45 years – both in an emergency room and long-term care setting – I am proud to introduce this critical legislation that will expand access to life-saving technologies for beneficiaries across the country, particularly in rural communities like those found in Tennessee. Medical innovation and technology is at the forefront of today’s health care system, and it is vital that the Medicare program embrace advances in emergency medicine to ensure that quality, affordable care remains available to our nation’s seniors,” Black said.
“Telehealth helps serve communities and patients that previously had fewer options. I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing the RUSH Act to advance telehealth’s use in skilled nursing facilities,” Griffith said. “This bill would serve patients by expanding their treatment options while helping control costs by reducing unnecessary hospital visits.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) found that 45 percent of hospital admissions from skilled nursing facilities could have been avoided if medical professionals had the ability to treat patients through telehealth options and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reported that approximately one in five patients returning to a facility after treatment is transferred back to the hospital within 30 days. CMS further found that 19 percent of all hospital transfers originate from skilled nursing facilities, which the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) asserts unnecessarily exposes residents to health risks such as falls, delirium, infections, and adverse medication interactions.