“EASE” Act Introduced To Enhance Remote Healthcare Access

by | Feb 14, 2024 | Telehealth News

The recent introduction of the Equal Access to Specialty Care Everywhere Act (EASE Act) by a bipartisan group of United States House representatives, including Reps. Michelle Steel (R-CA) and Susie Lee (D-NV), represents a move to enhance the delivery of specialty healthcare services to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. This legislative proposal seeks to establish a virtual network utilizing existing Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) funds. The network aims to facilitate access to specialty care for underserved populations through various virtual care modalities, such as eConsults and telehealth, in coordination with patients’ primary care providers. By connecting patients with specialists in fields like cardiology, neurology, and endocrinology, the act aims to make quality healthcare more accessible, especially in rural and underserved areas, potentially reducing reliance on emergency room visits by providing early and appropriate care.

The EASE Act has garnered support from lawmakers, showing a bipartisan commitment to addressing healthcare accessibility and affordability challenges. Its referral to key committees is a step towards operationalizing a model that integrates virtual care into the existing healthcare framework, aiming to ensure more access to specialized medical services. The endorsement of the act by OCHIN, a nonprofit focused on research and innovation in healthcare, outlines the potential benefits of the act in expanding clinical capacity and reducing healthcare costs, especially in communities that traditionally face barriers to accessing specialty care.

This legislative effort is set against challenges in accessing specialty healthcare, particularly for patients in rural communities served by Medicare and Medicaid. Research indicates major obstacles in securing new patient specialty visits, with some specialties like orthopedics being particularly difficult to access. By advocating for a virtual network that connects primary care providers with specialists, the EASE Act proposes a solution to improve healthcare delivery and improve the patient experience. This approach aims to utilise technology to overcome geographical and logistical barriers, ensuring patients have the necessary access to specialist care when needed.

In advocating for the EASE Act, lawmakers and supporters display the potential of virtual care technologies to improve healthcare delivery, in the context of increasing healthcare demands and the transition towards more integrated care models. The act’s focus on enhancing access to specialty care through digital platforms may effectively use technology in modern healthcare to create a more efficient healthcare system that can better meet the needs of underserved populations, ultimately improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs

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