Recent Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today reintroduced the Fostering Independence Through Technology (FITT) Act, which would expand the use of telehealth technology under Medicare in rural and other underserved communities across the nation. The bipartisan FITT Act would create a pilot program to provide incentives for home health agencies across the country to use home monitoring and communications technologies, giving seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries greater access to the care they need while enabling them to stay in their homes. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is a lead cosponsor of the FITT Act.

"Access to high-quality health care in rural areas can be costly and limited," said Thune. "Telehealth technology stands to bridge the distance gap between patients and specialized health care providers through new and innovative measures and can bring down the cost of health care in rural communities. Additionally, non-invasive telehealth technology like remote monitoring gives seniors the ability to stay in their homes longer, giving their loved ones peace of mind."

"Telehealth technology helps ensure that Minnesotans in rural communities have access to high-quality affordable health care," said Klobuchar. "This is one of many ways that we can increase the efficiency of health care and reduce the increasing costs of health care for our families."

Thune's bipartisan bill has the support of several prominent telehealth and home health advocates in South Dakota and throughout the country.

"Innovative technologies such as telehealth enhance long-term care services, give seniors more options and can reduce healthcare costs for consumers and government entities," said David J. Horazdovsky, president and chief executive officer for The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, the nation's largest not-for-profit provider of senior care and services. "In rural areas in particular, the bill offers the ability to dramatically change the way seniors receive healthcare by making greater use of telehealth services and remote monitoring tools. Through the use of these technologies, seniors will be able to live as long as possible in their own homes - the places where they are most comfortable," added Horazdovsky. "Our organization strongly supports this legislation. I applaud Senators Thune and Klobuchar for introducing the FITT Act as a way to provide improved health care services in rural and urban areas."

"The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) and its affiliated Home Care Technology Association of America (HCTAA) are grateful to Senators Thune and Klobuchar for their leadership and foresight in introducing the FITT Act," said Val J. Halamandaris, President of NAHC.

"The home care and hospice community of providers envisions a future where the widespread use of remote monitoring technologies enables greater access to health care professionals in rural and underserved urban areas," said Rich Brennan, Executive Director of HCTAA. "The FITT Act is a great initial step to ensure that these highly sophisticated health monitoring devices which capture vital clinical information are in use in homes across the country."

Under Thune's legislation, home health agencies participating in the pilot program will receive annual incentive payments based on a percentage of the Medicare savings achieved as a result of telehealth services. Thune's FITT Act is budget neutral.