Senators Moran, Manchin, Ernst and Shaheen Introduce Bill to Make Telehealth Flexibilities Permanent in Rural and Under-Served Areas – Press Releases

WASHINGTON DC. – US Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) Introduced the Rural Telehealth Access Protection Act with Sens. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) to make current flexibilities in telehealth permanent. This bipartite legislation would ensure that rural and underserved community health care providers are able to continue providing telehealth services after the end of the current public health emergency. These services include the ability to offer audio-only telehealth appointments, as many rural Americans do not have reliable and affordable broadband access.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reiterated the effective and efficient access to telehealth care offered to patients, especially those in rural communities” Senator Moran said. “Even after the pandemic is over, our healthcare system is expected to strengthen telehealth services as a reliable option to serve patients and help expand healthcare options and availability for rural America. “

“In rural areas of the United States – particularly West Virginia – many Americans do not have access to reliable and affordable broadband, which is essential for video telehealth services. said Senator Manchin. “Instead, many rural Americans are using audio-only telehealth appointments, which are now reimbursed equally after I have fought to ensure our healthcare professionals are reimbursed fairly for their hard work. When we began to see the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic, we immediately recognized the importance of making these telehealth flexibilities permanent. Our bill ensures that rural telehealth providers can provide rural Americans with the quality care they deserve by removing restrictions on the use of telehealth options and ensuring that physicians can be reimbursed for the services they provide to patients from the comfort of their own homes. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join this common sense legislation to permanently expand access to telehealth for all Americans, no matter where they live in our great country. “

“Even before the pandemic, access to telehealth was essential to help Iowa residents in rural areas get the care they need,” said Senator Ernst. “This is why I have privileged working with Democrats and Republicans to expand access to these services during this difficult year. Now that we’ve seen its success, there’s no reason we can’t make these changes permanent to continue supporting both our rural patients and our hospitals.

“The expansion of telehealth services during the pandemic, including in particular audio-only telehealth, has enabled Granite Staters to access the care they need without traveling long distances and without risking their health, while helping healthcare providers to easily connect with patients and earn additional income. necessary to keep their doors open – a win-win ”, said Senator Shaheen. “I am pleased to present this common sense legislation with Senator Manchin to permanently expand telehealth services and ensure that Medicare beneficiaries in areas of New Hampshire that lack broadband can continue to access audio forms. telehealth services only. It wouldn’t have taken a pandemic for Medicare to finally unleash the potential of telehealth services – and now we need to ensure that these vital telehealth services continue to be available to patients long after the COVID pandemic has ended – 19. “

The Rural Telehealth Access Protection Act:

  • Allow pay parity for audio health services only for clinically appropriate appointments. During COVID-19, recognizing that not everyone has access to technology in the home, Congress allowed the use of audio-only telephone services to allow doctors to reach patients wherever they are.
  • Definitively renounce the geographical restriction allowing patients to be treated from their homes. Prior to COVID-19, the home was licensed as an eligible source site in Medicare and some Medicaid programs, but only for very specific services, and only for the patient, not the provider.
  • Permanently allow rural health clinics and federally approved health centers to serve as remote sites to provide telehealth services.
  • Lift restrictions on “store and transfer” technologies for telehealth. Currently, this is only allowed in Hawaii and Alaska.
  • Allows Critical Access Hospitals (HACs) to bill telehealth services directly.

This bill is supported by the Alliance for Connected Care; American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; America’s essential hospitals; Americans for prosperity; American Association of Telemedicine; AMDA The Society for Post-Acute Medicine and Long-Term Care; DiaTribe Foundation; E-health initiative; World Liver Institute; Hawaiian Parkinson’s Association; International Foundation for Autoimmune and Auto-inflammatory Arthritis (AiArthritis); Leading age; Medical Group Management Association (MGMA); National Association of Nutrition and Aging Service Programs; National Association of Rural Health; Patient and provider advocates for telehealth; Institute for Progressive Politics; Alliance for Special Needs.

Click here to see the text of the invoice.

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