CBO Scores Two-Year Telehealth Extension Around $4 Billion


July 9, 2024 1:31 pm

The Congressional Budget Office estimates a two-year telehealth extension would cost the federal government $4 billion, sources told Inside Health Policy, but is still collecting additional research to adjust the final score. Sources say the bill could reach $4.3 billion, coming as House staffers work to organize payfors to offset high costs.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently received the CBO score for the Telehealth Modernization Act, which passed out of E&C’s health subcommittee in May, sources say. The earlier absence of a CBO score was the key reason the bill was not included in a full committee mark up in early June that featured two smaller telehealth bills.

Although the full committee was supposed to mark up the Telehealth bill on June 27, squabbles over a separate high-profile privacy bill that was also on the mark up slate led to an abrupt cancelation of the committee meeting. But lobbyists and lawmakers said they anticipate the bill to be marked up this month.

CBO signaled on July 1 that it needs additional information to accurately score the cost to the federal government of extending telehealth flexibilities. CBO is searching for more information on how providers respond to a change in prices paid for telehealth service to further inform cost of payment rates.

The office also would like to see more research on the substitution effects of telehealth and in-person care, and tracking telehealth downstream spending per service. Specifically, it wants to assess whether the effects on downstream spending are more or less likely for certain types of telehealth services and the mechanisms underlying those effects.