By: Watson, Nelson S.C.R. No. 28
WHEREAS, In 2000, more than two million senior citizens lived
in Texas, and it is estimated that by 2020 the number of Texans over
the age of 65 will increase to approximately 3.4 million; and
       WHEREAS, With average life expectancy continuing to rise, the
considerable costs associated with caring for the elderly are a
major concern for policy makers nationwide; the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid estimates that in 2004 Texans spent $5.590
billion for nursing home care and $3.626 billion for home health
care, more than one-third of which was paid for using public funds;
       WHEREAS, Further complicating the issue of elder care is the
fact that seniors are increasingly choosing to live in their own
homes for as long as possible; this trend toward "aging in place"
requires significant changes in the methods of delivery in health
care, social services, and support systems for the elderly; and
       WHEREAS, Addressing the challenges that "aging in place"
presents for monitoring the health and welfare of the elderly has
prompted practitioners and policy makers to consider alternative
solutions that may be provided by advances in technology,
especially in delivering services to seniors who live in rural
areas and are often required to drive substantial distances to
visit medical providers; and
       WHEREAS, Advances in telecommunications, such as
high-quality imaging and interactive real-time video, have
significantly improved access to advanced health care; these
telemedicine/telehealth services are not only medically
efficacious but also cost-effective if impediments to the expanded
use of these technologies in current Medicare regulations are
removed; and
       WHEREAS, Requirements under the Medicare, Medicaid, and
SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000 severely
limit Medicare reimbursement of telemedicine/telehealth services,
prohibiting the use of certain telecommunications techniques and
restricting payments to hub-site providers;  expanding the types of
telemedicine/telehealth technologies that are eligible for
reimbursement under the Medicare program would reduce the need for
expensive inpatient chronic care and foster the development of
improved telemedicine/telehealth capabilities in skilled nursing
facilities, lessening the burden and expense of transporting sick
and frail elderly patients to and from various health care
providers; and
       WHEREAS, Federal legislation to revise
telemedicine/telehealth reimbursement requirements under Medicare
was filed as recently as 2005 during the 109th Congress, and with
the expected increase in the senior citizen population in Texas, it
is appropriate that the Texas congressional delegation support
current efforts to expand Medicare-covered telemedicine/telehealth
services; now, therefore, be it
       RESOLVED, That the 80th Legislature of the State of Texas
hereby respectfully urge the Texas congressional delegation to
support federal legislation requiring the Centers for Medicaid and
Medicare Services to take substantive and affirmative actions to
expand telemedicine/telehealth services, especially the initiation
of Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine/telehealth home health
services in home health care and in skilled nursing facilities;  
and, be it further
       RESOLVED, That the Texas secretary of state forward official
copies of this resolution to the president of the United States, the
speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the
senate of the United States Congress, and all members of the Texas
delegation to the congress with the request that this resolution be
officially entered in the Congressional Record as a memorial to the
Congress of the United States of America.