ICYMI: House Energy and Commerce Lawmakers Highlight Urgency to Safeguard Access to Telehealth for Patients, Especially Seniors

May 23, 2024

Committee Markup Adds to Bipartisan Momentum to Avert Potential Telehealth Cliff, With Critical Extension of Virtual Care Flexibilities

In case you missed it, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a markup session last week on several healthcare bills, including H.R. 7623, the “Telehealth Modernization Act of 2024” introduced by U.S. House Representatives Buddy Carter (R-GA-01), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE- At-large district), Greg Steube (R-FL-17), Terri Sewell (D-AL-07), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-02), Jefferson Van Drew (R-NJ-02), and Joe Morelle (D-NY-25). The bipartisan bill would extend the current telehealth flexibilities that are set to expire at the end of this year under the Medicare program for an additional two years. The committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill.

Throughout the markup session, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle stressed the importance of safeguarding access to telehealth, especially for seniors, ahead of the expiration of flexibilities for virtual care at the end of this year.

Read some of what lawmakers had to say during the hearing:

Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05): “Today, we consider bipartisan legislation to extend telehealth flexibilities that are set to expire at the end of the year. While continuing these flexibilities for seniors will require an investment by Congress, It is crucial that we continue to allow seniors to access health care via telehealth if they choose… Telehealth has proven to be vital for patients across the country, especially in rural areas like my district in eastern Washington. I look forward to advancing legislation today.”

Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06): “Expansion of telehealth flexibilities during the COVID-19 public health emergency and subsequently in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 has allowed millions of Medicare beneficiaries to have access to necessary care and expanding access to telehealth services during the public health emergency helped save lives and help keep providers afloat. Since then, further expansion of telehealth services has helped provide critical services to hard-to-reach populations and help beneficiaries in areas that are already underserved… It’s critical that we ensure equitable access to telehealth services. And many Democrats have talked about this today. Telehealth can help underserved individuals access care and help individuals for managing serious health conditions.”

Subcommittee Chairman Brett Guthrie (R-KY-02): “Creation of telehealth has also transformed our healthcare system, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 30 million seniors in Medicare utilized telehealth services throughout the first months of the pandemic, giving beneficiaries the chance to have routine healthcare visits from the comfort of their homes. Congress extended these flexibilities beyond the public health emergency, but they’re set to expire at the end of the year. I would like to thank Representative Carter for his steadfast leadership on H.R. 7623, The Telehealth Modernization Act of 2024. This legislation serves as important guideposts of work we’re doing today. This policy extends to the current telehealth flexibilities in our committee’s jurisdiction for an additional two years and includes other reforms.”

U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA-25): “Telehealth services are a game changer indeed, especially for rural communities that disproportionately experience the burden of healthcare workforce shortages and transportation barriers.”

U.S. Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA-01): “Telehealth is proven to be a safe and effective way to deliver care, especially for patients who live in rural communities far away from doctors and it also helps seniors who may not have the ability to travel to a doctor. Telehealth is also proven to be an effective tool when addressing the healthcare workforce and physician shortages. Without congressional action, these Medicare telehealth flexibilities will expire at the end of this year, creating an access cliff for tens of millions of patients and providers.”

U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI-06): “Telehealth provides a critical way for patients to access needed care. I’m proud to be a co-lead of HR 7623, the Telehealth Modernization Act. This legislation would remove originating and geographic site restrictions, which would allow patients to access telehealth from their homes and would support patients in both rural and urban areas… Strengthened access to health self-services can benefit many at-risk seniors, enabling them to continue accessing their services while remaining safe in the comfort of their own homes.”

U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-01): “Telehealth allows seniors, especially those in rural areas, to have consistent and reliable access to their physician, which is critically important for individual and public health. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.”

U.S. Representative Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA-44): “I strongly support the telehealth extensions in the Telehealth Modernization Act. We saw through COVID-19 and the pandemic the challenges that are posed and how the conversation of the use of telehealth was just expanded and highlighted the need for us to continue to build on telehealth. During the pandemic, temporary flexibilities allowed Medicare providers to offer a broader range of services via telehealth, especially for those who live in rural or underserved areas. It also led to increased access to critical health services for patients in urban areas such as residents in my district in Los Angeles County, a visit to a healthcare provider could mean hours of traffic. This can certainly be a challenge for those with chronic conditions, older Americans or people with mobility restrictions.”

Watch the full hearing HERE and read TAFA’s statement following the markup HERE.


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