The American Association for Respiratory Care is a strong advocate for the respiratory care profession, our respiratory therapist members, and patients who suffer from chronic respiratory disease. We are supporting multiple legislative initiatives that increase the visibility of respiratory therapists and highlight their skills and expertise in patient care and need your help!
You can help support our efforts by reviewing the legislative initiatives that are most important to the Association and sending messages to your Members of Congress. Co-sponsorship of important legislation is critical to moving it through the legislative process and your participation makes a difference.
Current legislative initiatives:
Ask your Members of Congress to Co-Sponsor the CONNECT for Health Act to Increase Access to Respiratory Therapists as Telehealth Practitioners
The CONNECT for Health Act of 2019 (Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies) (H.R. 4932 and S. 2741), promotes higher quality care and increased access through the expansion of telehealth services in the Medicare program. This bipartisan legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate in late 2019. A critical provision of the legislation allows the Medicare program to test the addition of health care professionals who are not currently eligible to provide telehealth to furnish telehealth services as part of the program’s new innovative health care delivery models. Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT) and Certified Respiratory Therapists (CRT) are included among those professionals. Including RTs as telehealth providers offers expanded access to their expertise. Over 120 organizations officially support these bills, including AARC.
Ask your Representative to Co-Sponsor H.R. 4945, the SMART Act, to Exclude Ventilators from Competitive Bidding and Update Coverage Policies
Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, noninvasive ventilators (does not include CPAP and BiPAP devices) will be subject to Medicare’s competitive bidding program, resulting in lower reimbursement rates. This move poses a potential risk to patients and will hinder access to respiratory therapists (RTs) who manage ventilated patients in their homes because suppliers will not be able to subsidize the cost of RTs’ clinical support, which is not paid for by Medicare. H.R. 4945, the Safeguarding Medicare Access to Respiratory Therapy (SMART) Act, will delay the inclusion of noninvasive ventilators in competitive bidding for 5 years and require Medicare to convene an expert panel to recommend revisions to outdated coverage policies.
Ask Your Representative to Co-Sponsor HR 4838, the SOS Act to Protect Payment for Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab
Medicare law prohibits hospitals from billing at the hospital outpatient rate in certain off-campus provider-based departments based on their location (i.e., greater than 250 yards from the main campus). This action has created unintended consequences for cardiac and pulmonary rehab programs that wish to expand access to services or create a new service in an “off-campus” department because the hospital would be paid a lower rate. H.R. 4838, the Sustaining Outpatient Services (SOS) Act, would establish a financial threshold that would exempt new and expanding cardiac and pulmonary rehab services from drastic reimbursement reductions based solely on location.
Ask Your Senators to Co-Sponsor S. 3174, Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act
Stopping the youth tobacco epidemic is an important step to preventing chronic respiratory disease. Respiratory therapists know all too well the devastating effects of tobacco use and routinely provide smoking cessation counseling to help those with respiratory conditions as a result of tobacco use “kick the habit.” S. 3174, Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019, includes a wide-range of steps to protect kids from tobacco and reduce current tobacco-related health disparities. Key provisions include prohibiting flavored tobacco products that appeal to kids, prohibiting online sales of tobacco products, and prohibiting unauthorized marketing to youth by the tobacco industry. A companion bill, H.R. 2339, was passed by the House in a floor vote on Feb. 28, 2020.