ICYMI: “The House Acted to Protect Telehealth Access, Now it’s the Senate’s Turn”
Telehealth Access for America Op-ed Highlights Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Virtual Care, Need for Senate Action to Safeguard Access
In case you missed it, in a recent op-ed published in RealClear Health, Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) notes the “rare and overwhelming” bipartisan passage of the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act (H.R. 4040) in the U.S. House and the need for the U.S. Senate to take action.
In the piece, TAFA explains that, “[e]xpanded access to telehealth services and rapid advancements in technology spurred by the pandemic resulted in telehealth becoming one of the few positive developments to come from the COVID-19 crisis — allowing millions of patients to access quality health care, lower their health care costs, and improve health outcomes.” TAFA also shares the positive reception among patients, such as “102-year-old Bob Paulus who visited with his internist virtually during the pandemic, and encouraged other seniors to ‘take advantage’ of telehealth too.”
“Nearly 50 million seniors – 41 percent of all Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries – utilized telehealth in 2020. An American Medical Association (AMA) survey found that 80 percent of physician respondents believe patients have better access to care since using telehealth, a 12 percent increase compared to 2020,” TAFA continues. “Virtual care has also improved access and health equity for communities who have historically experienced increased barriers to care, including seniors, and rural households. The most significant rise in telehealth use during the pandemic – a 56-fold increase – was among patients in under-resourced neighborhoods.”
The piece also highlights that the majority of U.S. voters (78 percent) on both sides of the aisle “support legislation that permanently protects telehealth access” and there is similar bipartisan support in Congress. For example, “Congress stepped up to pass measures to extend telehealth Medicare waiver flexibilities for 151 days beyond an end of the PHE and expand access to telehealth for mental and behavioral care. And members in both chambers of Congress, representing rural and urban communities alike, have spoken about the importance of making telehealth flexibilities permanent.”
TAFA concludes, “All of the ingredients are there for the Senate to build on this broad bipartisan support and deliver a major step forward toward safeguarding access for virtual care… lawmakers in both chambers must continue to work together in a spirit of bipartisan collaboration to pass permanent solutions to safeguard telehealth access for the millions of patients who rely on virtual care. The House has taken the nation one step closer to permanently protecting access to virtual care for those who need it. Now, it is the Senate’s turn.”
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 and take action today at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.