What They Are Saying: Consumer Advocates Call for Extension of Critical Telehealth Flexibilities in End-of-Year Spending Package
A diverse array of consumer and patient advocacy organizations are calling on Congress to pass a significant extension of critical telehealth flexibilities before the end of the year. Without action from lawmakers, millions of patients who have come to rely on virtual care will face continued uncertainty and a potential telehealth cliff when the Public Health Emergency (PHE) ends.
Read what consumer advocates, including AARP, the American Heart Association, the Arthritis Foundation, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the Eating Disorders Coalition have to say about the urgency for Congress to protect access to telehealth:
- Megan O’Reilly, Vice President, Government Affairs, AARP: “Telehealth is an important tool in the health care delivery toolkit and helps people, particularly older Americans, conveniently and safely access care. AARP research shows that nearly half of people age 65 and older have used telehealth services in the past two years. Congress must act to ensure stability in Medicare’s telehealth coverage so that seniors can continue to access the care they need.”
- Emily Holubowich, Senior Vice President, Federal Advocacy, American Heart Association: “Telehealth is a lifeline for millions of patients nationwide, providing quality, reduced cost care while improving health equity and increasing patient satisfaction and access to specialized care. Patients, no matter where they live, deserve certainty from Congress that they will be able to continue to benefit from virtual medical services to obtain essential preventive care and heart disease and stroke treatment. The end of year spending legislation is a great opportunity to protect telehealth and extend flexibilities for at least two years.”
- Alisa Vidulich, MPH, Policy Director, Arthritis Foundation: “Telehealth has expanded access to care for millions of people, allowing rural patients to receive vital services, reducing health inequities, and can increase access to specialized care for diagnoses like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, to name a few. Despite these benefits, the telehealth cliff and end of temporary protections under the PHE remain. To avoid this, we strongly encourage Congress take advantage of the end of year spending package to extend telehealth protections.”
- Jenna Riemenschneider, Senior Director of Advocacy and Policy, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA): “Telehealth increases access to quality health care, decreases costs, and can offer a substitute to traditional, in-person care when appropriate. The benefits are significant and lawmakers, patients, and experts support continued access to virtual care. Yet, we are still waiting for Congress to act. The omnibus package is the perfect opportunity to provide a much-needed extension. If the end of the PHE comes without an extension, millions could be left without access to the care they have come to rely on. AAFA supports access to telehealth that ensures equitable, appropriate access to health care services to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities and we urge Congress to act now.”
- Chase Bannister, MDIV, MSW, LCSW, CEDS, President of the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action (EDC) Board of Directors: “We have heard from many people seeking eating disorder treatment that virtual care has been ‘fundamental,’ that it is ‘even better being online’ and that they are ‘healthier’ and ‘happier’ because of the virtual care they received. These are just a handful of positive testimonials out of millions who utilize virtual care. The PHE telehealth flexibilities have helped many patients transform their care and lives. It has expanded access to care to patients who live in areas where no other treatment option is available. Congress must extend telehealth protections for at least two years during end-of-year spending negotiations. The EDC and patients nationwide are counting on it.”
Read more on consumer advocates call for action on telehealth in POLITICO Pro HERE.
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 and take action today at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.