Please find below updates on how the health care system is leveraging telehealth and remote patient monitoring - including research, data, and polling on its current use in response to COVID-19.
Alliance-supported legislation to expand access to health care providers across state lines during the pandemic – the TREAT Act—will be reintroduced in Congress next week. As a reminder, the 116th Congress TREAT Act (H.R. 8283/S. 4421) would have provided temporary licensing reciprocity for telehealth and interstate health care treatment. View last year's press release and bill text.
Authorizes any healthcare provider who is licensed or certified in a state to prescribe, dispense, and/or administer COVID-19 vaccines in any other state or U.S. territory.
Authorizes any physician, registered nurse, or practical nurse whose license or certification expired within the past five years to prescribe, dispense and/or administer COVID-19 vaccines in any state or U.S. territory so long as the license or certification was active and in good standing prior to the date it went inactive.
Requires any healthcare professional described above to complete Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccine Training and, for healthcare providers who are not currently practicing or whose license or certification is expired, requires an on-site observation period by a currently practicing healthcare professional.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC): (1/26) – FCC Acting Chair Rosenworcel outlined plans for the agency’s upcoming February meeting – which will include next steps for the agency’s COVID-19 Telehealth program, progress on the effort to create an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, and the work the agency is doing to improve its broadband maps.
Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors (ACCESS) Act: (1/27) – Sens. Klobuchar (D-MN), Capito (R-WV) and eight bipartisan cosponsors introduced the ACCESS Act (S. 57), which would increase the ability of nursing facilities to access to telehealth services and obtain technologies to allow virtual visits during the public health emergency relating to an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Reps. Schakowsky (D-IL) and fourteen cosponsors introduced companion legislation (H.R. 596) in the House. View our tracker of telehealth-related federal legislation on our website.
Virtual Peer Support Act: (1/27) – Sen. Cortez Masto (D-NV) reintroduced her Virtual Peer Support Act, legislation which would provide $50 million in grants through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to eligible organizations to fund the implementation of new virtual peer support programs and the expansion of existing online services to meet community needs. Bill text has not yet been released.
Telehealth News, Research and Surveys
mHealth Intelligence: (1/28) – A bill recently introduced by state lawmakers in the State of New Hampshire aims to roll back certain provisions of a telehealth bill signed by Governor Chris Sununu in July 2020. The bill (HB 602) would revise the state’s telehealth rules to eliminate payment parity and coverage for services delivered via an audio-only phone or platform. New Hampshire was one of the first states to make emergency telehealth provisions enacted during the pandemic permanent to improve coverage and access to telehealth services.
The Washington Post: (1/28) – Maryland state lawmakers presented two bills on Tuesday to address inequities in broadband internet access in the state. One of the bills (SB 66) would include a statewide audit of the availability, reliability, and affordability of broadband services in every Maryland county. The second bill (HB 43) would establish the Office of Broadband in the Department of Information Technology to assist local jurisdictions in improving access to high-speed internet. These bills could help ensure individuals across the state have access to services that rely on broadband such as telehealth.
University of Virginia: (1/27) – UVA Health received a three-year, $4.4 million Federal Communications Commission grant to expand its Interactive Home Monitoring care program, which includes remote monitoring and home telehealth services, for patients with serious and chronic conditions. The grant will fund data-enabled tablet devices for 1,500 patients and will enable the program to reach a larger number of patients from underserved groups and rural communities.
MeriTalk: (1/27) – During a health IT digital summit organized by NextGov, Rep. Kelly (D-IL) noted that she was, “hopeful that telehealth and cybersecurity will continue to be bipartisan issues. Telemedicine has the potential to fundamentally change the delivery of health services,” Rep. Kelly added. “It has the ability to break down barriers to care, and it has the power to put key health resources right in the pocket of American families, but it must be done with privacy and security in mind.” Nicholas Uehlecke, former senior advisor to the Secretary of the Department, Health and Human Services also noted that, in many scenarios, telehealth is saving money by avoiding unnecessary trips to the hospital. “Where you live should not necessarily affect the access you have to healthcare,” he added.
mHealth Intelligence: (1/26) – The Federation of State Medical Board (FSMB) has launched an online platform aimed at helping hard-hit health systems bring in extra clinical help through telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the FSMB, the service helps cross-state telehealth programs by collecting information on license portability and helping both health systems and care providers navigate those rules. It also gives health systems an easy resource to bring in additional clinical help during the pandemic, while giving providers a digital document for their licensing information.
Healthcare IT News: (1/26) – State lawmakers across the US continue to take action on telehealth. Thus far, state lawmakers in almost every state have introduced about 300 bills aimed at expanding access to telehealth in some form over the past several months.
mHealth Intelligence: (1/26) – The Federation of State Medical Boards launched an online platform called Provider Bridge to help hard-hit systems bring in extra clinical help through telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform connects volunteer providers with health systems and facilitates license portability so providers can treat patients through a connected health platform.
Maryland Hospital Association: (1/25) – The Maryland Hospital Association is calling on the Maryland legislature to pass the Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2021, which would make permanent many of the telehealth flexibilities implemented during COVID-19 that have expanded use of telehealth, including the use of audio-only communications, to ensure access for patients. The state legislature held a hearing on the bill (HB 123/SB 3) on January 27.