Legislation proposed in the US House of Representatives would allow respiratory therapists to conduct telehealth services for COPD patients enrolled in Medicare.

HR Bill 2508, also known as the BREATHE Act (Better Respiration through Expanding Access to Tele-Health Act) would create a 3-year pilot program to determine the value of including qualifying respiratory therapists as telehealth practitioners under the Medicare program.

The pilot program would assess whether RTs providing telehealth services can improve health outcomes, reduce emergency department visits, reduce hospital admissions/readmissions, and lower healthcare costs.

According to the bill, RTs qualified to conduct telehealth services would include one who:

  • Is credentialed by a national credentialing board recognized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services;
  • If applicable, is licensed in the State in which the therapist furnishes the services involved;
  • Holds the credential of Registered Respiratory Therapist; and
  • Has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or other advanced degree in biological or health science.

The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Rep Earl Carter (R-Ga), Rep TJ Cox (D-Calif), Rep Mike Kelly (R-Pa) and Rep Mike Thompson (D-Calif).

According to govtrak.us, the bill has only a 4% chance of being passed.

The American Association for Respiratory Care currently has an lobbying campaign to promote passage of the bill.