Washington, D.C. — Today the House of Representatives passed S. 2873, the counterpart to H.R. 5395, the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes Act, or the ECHO Act, introduced by Congressman Michael C. Burgess M.D. (R-TX) and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) in the House of Representatives. The Senate unanimously passed S. 2873 last week, introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). It will now go to the President’s desk for signature.
“The legislation will help improve our understanding of how technology-enabled medical education can strengthen the collaboration between specialty care doctors and primary care doctors helping them better serve their communities. The most effective way to ensure widespread access to care is by harnessing models that have proven successful during implementation on a smaller scale, like that of Project ECHO,” said Congressman Burgess. “I am grateful for Congresswoman Matsui’s collaboration on this important legislation and that our fellow House members share in recognizing the importance of passing the ECHO Act this Congress.”
“Technology gives us the ability to connect our healthcare system in ways we never have been able to before,” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui. “In Sacramento, we’ve seen how the Project ECHO model can harness the power of technology to bring specialty expertise to community health centers and other providers in underserved areas. By passing the ECHO Act, communities across the country will now be able to benefit from this successful model to better serve patients in areas such as pain management and addiction. I’m thankful to Congressman Burgess for his leadership on this legislation, and look forward to building on this progress as we work to elevate innovative models to improve patient care and save lives.”
The ECHO Act is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that aims to facilitate integration of Project ECHO or similar models into health systems across the country by requiring the Secretary to study and produce a report on the use and integration of technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models by providers. According to CBO estimates, the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues in the 10-year budget window of 2017-2026.
Project ECHO, first started at the University of New Mexico in 2003, is a continuing medical education model that uses technology, such as interactive videoconferencing, to connect specialist physicians with primary care providers in rural and underserved areas. This guided practice model has proven overwhelmingly successful in growing workforce capacity to provide best-practice specialty care and reduce health disparities.