Chairman Neal Praises Rural and Underserved Communities Health Task Force’s Examination of Telehealth’s Opportunities and Challenges

Aug 6, 2020
Press Release
SPRINGFIELD, MA – Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) released the following statement at the outset of the Rural and Underserved Communities Health Task Force’s bipartisan member roundtable entitled, “Examining the Role of Telehealth during COVID-19 and Beyond”:
“Because a successful COVID-19 pandemic response requires physical distancing, telehealth has emerged as an important mechanism to access care. Congress has allowed for the expansion of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these new telehealth options have become vital to allowing patients to get the care they need while shielding them and the health care workforce from being unnecessarily exposed to the virus. To ensure telehealth can work for all, we need strategic investments in infrastructure, as well as diligent attention to ensure that telehealth does not exacerbate existing disparities among the populations that are the focus of the Rural and Underserved Communities Health Task Force. For example, unreliable broadband can leave patients and providers unable to benefit from even the most basic telehealth advances.
“Today’s roundtable on how we can harness telehealth – both during this pandemic and beyond – is a timely forum to allow the Committee to better understand the promise of telehealth as well as the data needed to create policies that improve access and reduce disparities. I applaud the leadership of the Task Force’s co-chairs, Reps. Terri Sewell, Danny Davis, Brad Wenstrup, and Jodey Arrington, who have been tackling the inequities facing rural and underserved American communities for more than a year now. Their ongoing work to eliminate barriers to equity and ensure our polices do not create additional opportunities for disparities is always vitally important, but particularly during the COVID era.”