What They Are Saying: Health Care Leaders Call for Urgent Action to Permanently Protect Access to Critical Telehealth Services for Millions of Consumers
TAFA Webinar Highlights the Value of Virtual Care for Consumers and How Policymakers Can Act
On Thursday, Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) hosted a webinar, “Critical for Consumers: Unpacking the Value of Telehealth and How Congress Can Permanently Protect Access to Virtual Care,” with a tremendous panel of leaders in health care representing consumers, physicians, and telehealth providers.
The panel discussed how flexibilities put in place during the pandemic and advancements in technology have supported a rapid rise in consumer use of telehealth services and the urgency for Congress to capitalize on overwhelming bipartisan support for telehealth, especially by ensuring critical flexibilities established during the pandemic are extended and permanent reforms enacted to safeguard and expand access to virtual care.
Here is some of what panelists had to say about the urgency to safeguard access to telehealth as critical for addressing health disparities, expanding access to quality care, improving health outcomes, and strengthening the health care system for consumers:
Lauren Ryan, Government Affairs Director, AARP: “Since the outcome of the pandemic, we’ve really seen how lifting barriers to telehealth can improve access to care, including beyond times of emergency, we’ve seen how telehealth can be used to complement in-person care and to support a broader care delivery model by reducing some of the traditional barriers that older patients experience, and helping to increase the independence that they can have in their own homes.”
“…Once people had access to telehealth, and once some of the barriers to telehealth were lifted… people began to see how beneficial it could be as a permanent part of America’s health care system.”
Emily J. Holubowich, Vice President for Federal Advocacy, American Heart Association: “We know telehealth has the potential to transform the healthcare delivery system, to reduce costs to increase quality and access and advance health equity.”
“…Telehealth improves cardiovascular disease outcomes and cost, it contributes to significant reductions in blood pressure, decreased heart failure related hospitalizations, reduced mortality, improved quality of life. We know it increases communications by streamlining the flow of information from patient to provider and in between providers… There is no question that the pandemic telehealth flexibilities helped to ensure the continuity of care for millions of Americans.”
Dr. Sachin D. Shah, MD, FACP, FAAP, Associate Professor of Medicine & Pediatrics & Chief Medical Information Officer, UChicago Medicine and Biological Sciences: “Telehealth improves patient engagement and activation. It provides more access and agency which promotes more self-management and ownership over one’s health. I’ve seen that time and time again, and improved outcomes followed.”
“…[Telehealth] improves quality of care, it improves access, and importantly it reduces cost. It’s a high value way to get care to our patients upstream of a very expensive, reactive, health care that we end up having to provision in a time of emergency, instead of when we had the opportunity earlier.”
“… [Telehealth] really does improve access to health care for my patients and reduces barriers.”
Kyle Zebley, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, American Telemedicine Association: “The House acted on a lot of these provisions through the passage, overwhelmingly bipartisan 416 to 12, in H.R. 4040. We’re asking that the Senate takes some action in response to the House, that would give a greater degree of permanency of telehealth, at least through 2024.”
“…We really want to see long term permanency. Look at how far we’ve come in utilizing all that tech can do now for the benefit of the patient, look at what we’ve done when we haven’t had permanent policy. Imagine what is possible if we had that long term certainty for access and reimbursement, if we had that long term certainty that Americans aren’t going to go off the telehealth cliff when the [Public Health Emergency (PHE)] ends.”
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.