The Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act seeks to expand the promise of virtual care, even once the pandemic has subsided, by eliminating restrictions, ensuring access and studying its ability to address disparities and improve outcomes.
A new bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday aims to ensure telehealth is able to continue to build on its potential in the years ahead, by making permanent some policies enacted during the pandemic and protecting Medicare beneficiaries’ ability to engage in virtual care.
WHY IT MATTERS
The Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act is co-sponsored by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Arizona, co-chair of the Congressional Telehealth Caucus, along with Reps. Mike Thompson, D-California, Peter Welch, D-Vermont, Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and Doris Matsui, D-California.
The legislation seeks to push forward with wider access to and use of telehealth – even beyond this public health emergency with its numerous waivers, allowances and temporary rule changes.
Specifically, according to Schweikert’s office, it would focus on:
- Eliminating most geographic and originating site restrictions on the use of telehealth in Medicare and establishing the patient’s home as an eligible distant site so patients can receive telehealth care at home and doctors can still be reimbursed,
- Preventing a sudden loss of telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries by authorizing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service to continue reimbursement for telehealth for 90 days beyond the end of the public health emergency,
- Making permanent the disaster waiver authority, enabling Health and Human Service to expand telehealth in Medicare during all future emergencies and disasters, and
- Requiring a study on the use of telehealth during COVID, including its costs, uptake rates, measurable health outcomes, and racial and geographic disparities.
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