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Ways and Means Republicans Unveil New Vision for the Future of Telehealth

July 20, 2020

WASHINGTON – Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Health Subcommittee GOP Leader Devin Nunes (R-CA), released a discussion draft today outlining a bold plan to further promote telehealth for patients. 

In response to the novel coronavirus, Congress and the Trump administration have enacted an unprecedented expansion of telehealth. These temporary waivers have allowed many health-care services to go virtual in order to help patients safely connect with doctors and prevent the spread of the virus by following local and state social distancing orders.

“As we continue to fight the novel coronavirus, Republicans are working to make health care more convenient and accessible for all Americans,” Ways and Means GOP Leader Kevin Brady (R-TX) said. “I want to thank all of our Members for their work on this agenda – we will continue to engage with patients, stakeholders, and policy makers as we move these bold ideas forward.” 

Given the success of increased access to telehealth for Americans during the pandemic, Congress should prioritize making increased access to telehealth a permanent function of our nation’s healthcare system,” Health Subcommittee GOP Leader Devin Nunes (R-CA) added.

CLICK HERE to view the full discussion draft, and HERE for a summary of the provisions in the discussion draft.

The following Republican Members, including Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), helped with the development of this discussion draft. Check out what our Members are saying about this patient-centered health care agenda.

Telehealth has been critical to our COVID-19 response, especially in rural America where patients can engage with their medical providers while limiting travel and the spread of the virus,” Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE ) said. “Both patients and providers benefited greatly from the telehealth flexibility created by the CARES Act, and we must now work to ensure these success stories can continue after the pandemic.”

Speaking with local doctors and health providers weekly, we know how critical these temporary telehealth expansions have been to our communities’ access to medical care,” Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) said. “It is only fair that these important provisions are made permanent as we look to increase the availability of telehealth services and provide rural health clinics with greater flexibility to serve regions like ours.”

Telemedicine has made health care accessible to countless Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) said. “For rural communities like mine, telehealth has allowed our seniors to connect with nurses and physicians in the safety and comfort of their own homes. This legislation will further increase access to this growing and affordable health care option for patients.

Telehealth services have proven to be a great resource, especially to those in rural areas. Removing barriers and expanding Telehealth services will help meet vital needs of those who rely on Telehealth for their healthcare,” Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) said.

It is clear that telemedicine is part of the future of our healthcare system. I am pleased to be working with my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee to further advance telehealth services, allowing our society to become safer, healthier, and more effective at delivering the care patients deserve,” Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) said.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, CMS has expanded access to telehealth services to allow providers to continue delivering high-quality care despite office closures and extra precautions for high-risk patients,” Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) said. “Now we need to make these temporary waivers permanent so patients can have access to these innovative tools and resources beyond this crisis, and so our health care system is better prepared for future public health emergencies.”

COVID-19 put an incredible strain on our health care system,” Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) said. “Telehealth services have played a vital part in our efforts to combat this virus, particularly in our rural communities in central and west-central Illinois. The Ways and Means Republicans discussion draft lays out an important framework to continue bolstering critical telehealth services for patients and increase access to healthcare both now and after COVID.”

Over the past few months, we’ve seen success in leveraging technology to provide care Medicare beneficiaries through expanded access to telehealth services,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M(R-OH) said. “Building upon that success, Congress should now work toward making these changes permanent as appropriate, and I’m proud to support this effort.”

COVID has forced us to look at things differently and leverage technology in ways we never imagined,” Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) said.Expanding access to care through telemedicine during this pandemic has saved countless lives and been a game changer for millions of Americans.  We must lock in these extraordinary benefits of health care innovation now in order to have a smarter and better health system for the future.”

The ability to connect patients to their healthcare providers through telehealth has proven increasingly important during the global pandemic – which has led to a drastic increase in the number of telehealth visits. The permanency provisions in Representative Nunes’s discussion draft make smart, targeted, and effective updates to telehealth that prioritize accessibility and put the needs of patients first,” Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA) said.

Rural Kansas residents are no stranger to the challenges of meeting with some specialists or receiving quick access for certain physician consultations due to limited services in their area,” Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS) said. “While our rural hospitals are doing an exceptional job taking care of critical needs, many Kansans find themselves disadvantaged when it comes to specialty care. Making permanent some of the telehealth provisions that were expanded due to COVID-19 makes sense for those living in rural parts of our country.”

Want to read more on the fight against Coronavirus? Read our Coronavirus Bulletin here which contains our extensive FAQ about recent federal actions.

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