“COVID-19 Health Care Flexibilities: Perspectives, Experiences, and Lessons Learned”

The Alliance submitted a letter to the Senate Finance Committee  on the “COVID-19 Health Care Flexibilities: Perspectives, Experiences, and Lessons Learned.”

The Alliance will focus comments on 1) Research and evidence we have gathered thus far; 2) Recommendations for future telehealth expansion that Congress should consider – including steps to ensure equitable access; and 3) Recommendations for telehealth “guardrail” provisions that Congress should consider to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the health care system.

While we prefer the implementation of permanent policies described in our recommendations below, the Alliance supports a two-year clean extension of telehealth flexibilities exercised during the COVID-19 pandemic, including 1834(m) Medicare telehealth waivers, a safe harbor for employer-subsidized telehealth for people with Health Savings Account eligible High Deductible Health Plans, and the flexibility for Critical Access Hospitals to continue to bill telehealth as they have during the pandemic. We want policymakers to feel comfortable that access to telehealth services in Medicare will not negatively impact health care quality, or the federal budget. Therefore, we recommend Congress wait to make permanent policy until more peer-reviewed research has been published, government studies – such as the study underway by AHRQ – have been completed, the Office of the Inspector General has examined the level of fraud in telehealth during the Public Health Emergency, and when we have observed what the use of telehealth during “normal times.”

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