Congress Must Act to Safeguard Telehealth Access Before the End of the Year
Patients Who Rely on Virtual Care Face a Telehealth Cliff. Congress Must Capitalize On the Unprecedented Momentum for Action and Safeguard Access to Telehealth Before the End of the Year.
In a recent op-ed published in Inside Telehealth, Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) highlighted the urgency for Congress to extend critical telehealth flexibilities in an end-of-year spending package.
The op-ed includes the story of a patient who received virtual care that has been “essential” to their treatment and notes how this patient and “millions of patients who have come to rely on virtual care face a telehealth cliff without action on existing telehealth protections from Congress.”
“To protect patients and their access to virtual health care, lawmakers must build on the unprecedented momentum from patients and voters for action and capitalize on the opportunity to extend critical telehealth flexibilities in the end of year spending package,” the op-ed says. “These protections are needed to give patients continued access to the numerous benefits of virtual care, which grew rapidly during the pandemic thanks to telehealth flexibilities offered under the Public Health Emergency.”
“Not only does telehealth increase access, but it decreases costs and offers a substitute for traditional, in-person care… On average, patients saw a 61 percent reduction in health care expenses from January 2020 to February 2021,” TAFA notes. “For all these reasons and more, in a rare bipartisan display, the U.S. House passed H.R. 4040 – The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act – to expand virtual protections for virtual care for two more years. However, this legislation, which passed with a 416-12 vote margin, has yet to be taken up by the U.S. Senate.”
TAFA concludes, “Senators on both sides of the aisle agree that action is needed” and that “[the] end-of-year omnibus is the prime opportunity to enact this change, protect telehealth, and ensure the benefits of its expansion remain for years to come. Failure to do so would be disastrous for the millions relying on it, and we urge Congress to get this done this year.”
Read the full op-ed in Inside Telehealth HERE and learn more about how Congress can act to permanently protect telehealth access HERE.
ABOUT TELEHEALTH ACCESS FOR AMERICA
Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) is a public education campaign supported by leaders in health care committed to better care, expanded patient choice, and protecting access to critical telehealth services. Learn more at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.