Sinema, Blackburn, & Klobuchar Introduce New Bill Permanently Restoring Telehealth Access for Seniors Receiving Rehab Services at Home

Oct 4, 2023

Senators’ new legislation increases access to rehabilitation care at home and prevents unnecessary and expensive hospitalizations for seniors recovering from serious heart and lung conditions

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced the Sustainable Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Services in the Home Act – bipartisan legislation permanently restoring Medicare patients’ ability to receive cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services at home through telehealth.

“We’re increasing access to health care for Arizona seniors by ensuring they can have heart and lung rehab services at home and through telehealth – reducing unnecessary hospitalizations, lowering costs, and empowering seniors to choose where to receive care,” said Senator Sinema.

“Providers’ ability to furnish home-based cardiac rehabilitation services through the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be transformative for patients and providers. Recent studies show that patients participating in virtual cardiac rehabilitation programs had a significantly lower risk of mortality than patients who opted out of the program. This legislation to permanently allow patients and providers to access these life-saving programs will ensure access to quality care for heart and lung patients,” said Senator Blackburn.

“Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, and we must use every tool at our disposal to combat this chronic condition. This legislation will do just that by making virtual cardiac rehabilitation services that have been proven to reduce mortality rates available to Medicare patients. Not only will this bill make it easier for patients to get the care they need, it will save lives,” said Senator Klobuchar.

The bipartisan Sustainable Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Services in the Home Act preserves access to needed care by permanently allowing patients to receive in-home cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services under Medicare telehealth rules. These programs are a critical tool in treating patients who have suffered a cardiac incident – such as a heart attack – and have been shown to reduce hospital readmission and increase life expectancy.

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services temporarily allowed certain cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs to be reimbursed under Medicare when provided or supervised virtually in a patient’s home. This flexibility ensured patients were able to continue cardiac rehabilitation even when hospitals and outpatient centers were closed, and expanded access to telehealth services for rural communities who typically must travel far to receive care.

The ability of Medicare providers and beneficiaries to receive in-home, virtual cardiac rehabilitation ended with the end of the Public Health Emergency on May 11, 2023. The Senators’ bipartisan legislation brings back this flexibility permanently to increase access to care, help rural communities, and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and future cardiac events. The Senators also recognize the importance of increasing access to heart health services for older women, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that heart disease is a leading cause of death for women in the United States and that only half of women recognize their heart health risks. 

Click HERE to read bill text.