Senate HELP Committee Members Grapple with Making Permanent COVID-19 Telehealth Policy Changes
As the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on over the last several weeks, the million-dollar question for many in the healthcare industry is: What will be the fate of the temporary telehealth expansions in Medicare after the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) ends? This was exactly the question that underlined the Senate Committee hearing last week titled, “Telehealth: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee heard from four witnesses on the topic including:
Witnesses spoke of the importance of telehealth throughout the pandemic and its ability to deliver healthcare effectively and efficiently even prior to the PHE. They also spoke of patient’s broad acceptance of virtual visits and remote patient monitoring and warned of the potential for patients to lose their access to healthcare if the telehealth expansions are not made permanent. There are 31 temporary federal policy changes that have occurred related to telehealth since the PHE was declared. As a reference, the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) has prepared a chart of the most significant federal telehealth COVID-19 emergency actions, and provided their corresponding expiration date and description of needed policy change to make permanent.
* Not a complete list. See CCHP’s legislative tracker for full list of federal bills.
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