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.