May 2, 2022

Secretary Becerra, Members of Congress Highlight Growing Momentum for Virtual Care Protections 

Last week, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Health held a pair of hearings regarding the proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Budget. During the hearings, members of Congress, experts, and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra highlighted the critical role of telehealth in sustaining an accessible health care system and the urgent need to permanently protect patient access to virtual care. 

During the hearings, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle emphasized the critical role of telehealth in addressing health care inequity and inaccessibility and emphasized the need for permanent protection of telehealth. 

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra: “Telehealth [is] indispensable especially in rural communities, underserved communities. We hope that we can work with you to extend those authorities because we will need statutory changes to make that possible…I think we’ve learned, as a result of COVID quite honestly, how much we can institutionalize when it comes to telehealth.” 

Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE-03): “I talked about telehealth and how important that is to expand that access for everyone, I was working on that for rural purposes before the pandemic, we know that the need is greater than just for rural purposes. We know many people are depending on this.”

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT, At Large District): “In Vermont we have this program that’s working out combining telehealth with a system where the medically assisted medication is in a wheel that can only open every 24 hours and the person can go on their app in their home and in the visual observation the provider, may they be 100 miles away, and there’s the assurance that there’s no abuse, it’s really a tremendous program.”

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02): “We want to measure outcomes and improve reporting on the great work being done by the models in the states. I think you and I both agree this is an incredible program – and we want to continue tele-visits if evidence proves that virtual visits deliver the same quality results that we’ve come to expect.”

TAFA commends these lawmakers, as well as Secretary Becerra, for pushing forward on a bipartisan issue that benefits all patients, and highlighting that telehealth protections are vital to securing the future of the health of the nation. Learn more about Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) and permanent solutions to protect access to telehealth HERE.