What They Are Saying: Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Extension of Telehealth Flexibilities and Permanent Reform to Safeguard Access to Virtual Care

Aug 4, 2022

Lawmakers on Both Sides of the Aisle Highlighted the Critical Value of Telehealth for Consumers Around House Passage of Bill to Extend Access

In case you missed it, last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID–19 Act of 2022 (H.R. 4040) with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 416 votes in support. This legislation would extend critical telehealth flexibilities established during the pandemic for two years, ensuring millions of patients are able to continue accessing the care they have come to rely on.

During debate on the legislation and following the bill’s passage, lawmakers highlighted the value of telehealth for consumers, including virtual care’s ability to improve access to care, drive  health equity, decrease costs, and achieve better health outcomes. Several lawmakers also highlighted the critical need for Congress to pass solutions to permanently safeguard access to virtual care.

Read more on what lawmakers had to say here:

Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6), Chairman, U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce: “Over the course of this pandemic telehealth has served as an important tool for staying connected to care without increasing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. And in the Medicare program, millions have utilized telehealth for the first time during the pandemic thanks to actions taken early on by Congress and the Administration.” 

Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA-5), Ranking Member, U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce: “The pandemic has made clear that telehealth can and should be a part of modernizing health care.” 

Representative Richard Neal (D-MA-01), Chairman, U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means: “The ease and usefulness of telehealth has been cemented throughout the course of the pandemic. Extending telehealth capabilities for Medicare beneficiaries will give our seniors stability while also allowing us to evaluate the value, quality, and equity of this tool over the next two years.” 

Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), Chairwoman, U.S. House Republican Conference: “Families in Upstate New York and the North Country, especially our seniors, rely on telehealth services to keep in touch with their healthcare providers…I am proud to advance bipartisan legislation to extend critical services that our seniors and rural communities rely on, so they can continue to receive healthcare regardless of distance or medical conditions that make in-person visits challenging.” 

Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA-6): “We want to ensure that permanent Medicare policies support telehealth in ways that ensure beneficiaries can continually get the right care, in the right place at the right time.” 

Representative Michelle Steel (R-CA-48): “Telehealth has been life changing for so many, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased access to telehealth has benefited a wide range of Americans, from seniors to high-risk patients. We must ensure that the millions of Americans who have utilized flexibility provisions authorized during the pandemic do not lose their access to telemedicine.” 

Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12): “For seniors, traveling to a doctor’s office can be a prohibitive barrier to receiving the care they need, and we cannot allow people who have come to rely on telehealth throughout the pandemic to have that resource taken from them. This legislation brings us one step closer to permanently expanding telehealth services and allowing Americans to continue to access critical health care from the comfort of their home.” 

Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA-1): “Telehealth has played a critical role for patients to access the care they desperately need. On the Energy and Commerce Committee, we’ve been discussing the importance of telehealth flexibilities for years. It’s bringing doctors right into families’ living rooms and it’s an example of how innovation can improve and save people’s lives…While we made great strides and making telehealth more broadly available, we know that Congress can do more. Increasing access to telehealth means increasing access to quality care for all patients.” 

Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17): “Every American deserves access to high-quality, affordable health care – no matter where they live. Today, we passed bipartisan legislation that will allow folks enrolled in Medicare to continue to take advantage of telehealth benefits, even when the current public health emergency comes to an end. These services have been a lifeline for patients across the country and particularly in rural communities where access to medical facilities is limited.”

Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX-26): “[A] permanent extension would ensure that following the pandemic providers and patients continue to have access to telehealth flexibilities, especially in rural and underserved areas. These are arguably communities that have benefited the most from an increase in telehealth access. We’ll continue to see innovation and technology that will further influence how we deliver care to American patients. We need to keep up with the times.” 

Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT-02): “Access to telehealth services was greatly expanded during COVID, and that proved to be a major benefit for lots of seniors on Medicare, and for so many families in our smaller towns and rural communities—especially at a time when we saw the demand for mental health care skyrocket…this is no time to tighten restrictions on how people can access their care.”

Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE-3): “I hope in the future we can work in a true bipartisan fashion under regular order to address the gaps that we know exist in policy and set a long-term sustainable course for telehealth well beyond 2024.” 

TAFA calls on lawmakers in both chambers to work in a bipartisan manner to enact permanent protections that ensure patient access to the virtual health care that millions of individuals have come to rely on.  

Learn more about Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) and permanent solutions to protect access to telehealth HERE.

ABOUT TELEHEALTH ACCESS FOR AMERICATelehealth 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.