I just want to introduce myself as the incoming ISRC President. I have worked as the NICU / PICU Clinical Coordinator at St. Vincent-Evansville for 37 years in addition to serving the ISRC as Chapter Director since 2011. I also serve University of Southern Indiana (USI) as adjunct instructor. Privileged to attend the November House of Delegates meeting; I learned how the process of getting a bill through the House of Delegates works. In state and national government, bills have been created that greatly affect Respiratory Therapists. According to the AARC: The House and Senate have introduced identical versions of the CONNECT (Creating Opportunities Now for New and Effective Care Technologies) for Health Act (H.R. 4932/S. 2741) that are bipartisan with the support of AARC and over 120 organizations. The legislation allows RTs to provide telehealth services as part of the health care delivery models being tested by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center. The CONNECT Act also encourages CMS to test new telehealth models, which could translate into a model which includes provisions of the BREATHE Act (H.R. 2508) focusing on chronic disease management services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries by RTs as telehealth practitioners.
The original co-sponsors of the BREATHE Act were pleased to have language allowing RTs to provide telehealth services included in the CONNECT Act as a direct result of the strong bipartisan support for the BREATHE Act. However, we have learned that the Senate favors the CONNECT Act over introducing a companion bill to the BREATHE Act. Since the House and Senate bills have strong support from a large group of stakeholders, in addition to the Congressional Telehealth Caucus, it is the telehealth legislation with the strongest chance of advancing this year. Co-sponsors of the BREATHE Act also support efforts to gain co-sponsorship for the House and Senate CONNECT Act, so we will shift our attention to that legislation in advocating for RTs as telehealth practitioners.
H.R. 4945, the Safeguarding Medicare Access to Respiratory Therapy (SMART) Act is to keep noninvasive ventilators out of competitive bidding for five years and require CMS to revise its outdated coverage policies that do not recognize the advancement in technologies and which have resulted in a substantial increase in use over the past few years.
In February, we had an e-mail blast to our U.S. Senators and Representatives. In May, the ISRC will send 2 members to lobby Congress on Capitol Hill with regard to these bills and our profession. I look for-ward to getting this year started, and I am comforted knowing that Mary Todd (Past President) is just down the hall from me if I need any advice. The ISRC has a very experienced Executive Committee and active Chapter directors. I would like to remind everyone that all ISRC meetings are open to attend. Please refer to the ISRC website for dates and locations.