ICYMI: Leading Patient Advocates Call on Congressional Leaders To Protect Access to Telehealth, Without Onerous Restrictions

May 21, 2024

Consumer Organizations Highlight Urgency for Action to Avert Telehealth Cliff, Without Undermining The Critical Value of Virtual Care, on Anniversary of the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE)

In case you missed it, nearly a dozen leading patient advocacy organizations sent a letter to Congressional leaders last week marking the first anniversary of the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) by calling on Congress to take urgent action to protect access to telehealth by extending flexibilities first enacted during the pandemic, without the addition of onerous restrictions that would undermine the full value of virtual care for consumers.

Signatories of the letter include the American Heart Association, Arthritis Foundation, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Eating Disorders Coalition, Epilepsy Foundation, International Hyperhidrosis Society, Lupus Foundation of America, National Alliance for Caregiving, National Association for Continence, National Celiac Association, and National Eczema Association.

“The telehealth flexibilities granted in Medicare in March 2020 gave millions of patients long overdue access to affordable, high-quality, convenient virtual care,” the organizations wrote. “Since then, telehealth has become even more embedded into America’s healthcare system, serving as an indispensable tool to broaden access to health care services for all patients, especially those in rural and underserved communities, improve healthcare quality and outcomes, and reduce costs.”

“‘Without urgent action from Congress, patients face a telehealth cliff at the end of this calendar year, as critical flexibilities for virtual care, first issued through the PHE and extended by Congress at the end of 2022, once again approach expiration,” the letter continued. “Our organizations, and the patient communities we represent, are counting on lawmakers to protect access to telehealth, including audio-only, by passing an extension of these flexibilities, without onerous restrictions that would undermine the full promise of virtual care for patients.”

“An extension of critical telehealth flexibilities should last as long as possible but certainly no less than two years to ensure the viability of virtual care offerings and promote continued advancements in telehealth that can further improve outcomes for patients,” the letter adds. “Congress must capitalize on this strong bipartisan support and act to protect access to telehealth, without onerous restrictions, for millions of seniors and other consumers that have come to depend on it for their healthcare needs.”

The letter follows recent positive progress toward extending critical flexibilities from the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means and U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health. Both committees recently held markups of legislation to extend telehealth flexibilities. 

Read the full letter from the consumer advocates in InsideTelehealth HERE

Read recent coverage from FierceHealthcare of the recent U.S. House activity on telehealth and the patient group letter HERE.

Learn more about how Congress can act to permanently protect telehealth access 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 and take action today at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.