Washington, DC, September 13, 2022 – Today, an astounding 375 organizations sent a joint letter to bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate urging action on telehealth legislation this fall. Policy certainty beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) is essential to continuing access to telehealth for both Medicare and commercial market patients.
The letter urges the Senate to pass a two-year extension of important telehealth policies enacted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which are currently set to expire 151 days after the end of the PHE. The letter represents the diversity of groups across the health care spectrum whose constituencies are impacted by telehealth policy – from consumer groups representing mental health, chronic disease, primary care; and providers including physicians, nurses, physical therapists; to employers representing millions of Americans who receive their coverage through their jobs.
The letter calls on the Senate to pass legislation that would extend critical telehealth flexibilities, including provisions to waive provider and patient location limitations, remove in-person requirements for telemental health, ensure continued access to clinically appropriate controlled substances without in-person requirements, and increase access to telehealth services in the commercial market, including for those with a high-deductible health plans coupled with a health savings account (HDHP-HSA).
“More than 400 members of the House voted to extend telehealth flexibilities in July, and it’s time for the Senate to follow. Without more policy certainty around telehealth, beneficiary access could be compromised,” said Krista Drobac, Executive Director, Alliance for Connected Care. “The House created the momentum, we hope the Senate will seize it and enact comprehensive telehealth legislation this fall.”
Patient satisfaction surveys and claims data from CMS and private health plans demonstrate that many Americans have come to see telehealth as one of the most positive improvements to our nation’s health care system in recent memory. Telehealth has also helped to bridge gaps in care, especially in communities facing significant workforce shortages. Importantly, almost three in four Americans “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that patients should have the option to receive telehealth, even after the pandemic, which increases to 84 percent among recent telehealth patients. Most recently, reports from the HHS Office of Inspector General showed that that dually-eligible beneficiaries were more likely than others to use telehealth to ensure access to care and that telehealth expanded access for minority populations.
The joint letter was co-led by the Alliance for Connected Care, American Telemedicine Association (ATA), College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), Connected Health Initiative, Consumer Technology Association, Executives for Health Innovation, Health Innovation Alliance, HIMSS, and Partnership to Advance Virtual Care.
To read the full letter, click here or see below: