On the heels of a raging pandemic and a terrible recession, Americans deserve greater access and choice in the health care they are relying on, which is why Ways and Means Republican Leader Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) issued the following statement:
“Expanding telehealth is an important step in providing greater access to health care,” Rep. Brady said. “This bill, which includes many Ways and Means Republican priorities, helps by building on what worked during the pandemic and temporarily prevents patients from losing the telehealth access they’ve utilized the last two years. We need to go further, working together on a bipartisan basis to permanently extend many of the telehealth flexibilities, including for mental and behavioral health services, and ensure no patient is left behind.”
“Telehealth is a vital way for patients to access affordable care, especially in rural communities like in Eastern Washington,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, a hospital system in my district scaled up their telehealth services by 1,000 percent. It’s clearer than ever before that telehealth can and should be part of modernizing health care across the country. That’s why we’re taking action to ensure this option for care remains available. I’m grateful for all my colleagues who are leading on telehealth solutions to improve people’s lives and build a healthier future. We need to continue to build on this work to provide certainty to seniors and health care providers in the long term.”
Telehealth is a crucial tool to increase access to health care for patients. During the pandemic, the average national weekly telehealth users jumped from 13,000 to 1.7 million.
H.R. 4040, which passed in the House today, includes many provisions based on telehealth extension bills Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Members have introduced. With more certainty needed over the long term, members are leading on the following solutions, some of which include permanent expansions of telehealth services:
- Republican Leader on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH): H.R. 8493: Permanent removal of originating site and geographic site restrictions for telehealth services.
- Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): H.R. 8489: A comprehensive alternative bill that further extends telehealth flexibilities through 2026.
- Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Brett Guthrie (R-KY): H.R. 8491: Permanent expansion of list of practitioners eligible to provide telehealth services to include qualified physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and audiologists.
- Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) and Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-TX): H.R. 8506: Permanent extension of telehealth services for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs).
- Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK) and Rep. John Curtis (R-UT): H.R. 8497: Permanent delay of the Medicare in-person requirements for mental health services delivered through telehealth.
- Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO): H.R. 8515: Permanently allows the continuation of coverage and payment of telehealth services provided using audio-only technology.
- Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV): H.R. 8505: Permanent continuation of allowing certain hospice recertification visits to be done virtually.
- Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): H.R. 7876: Another comprehensive alternative bill to extend telehealth that also includes additional rural health provisions.
- Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): H.R. 1332: Extends flexibilities authorized during the COVID-19 emergency, allows rural health clinics and FQHCs to serve as distant sites, and allows all practitioners to provide telehealth services as determined by CMS.
- Rep. John Curtis (R-UT): H.R. 5837: Permanently allows telehealth services for substance-use and mental health disorders to be provided via audio-only technology and without an initial in-person visit.