Congressional Activity and Legislation
The Alliance for Connected Care continues to update a recent telehealth legislation page.
Senate Letter: (6/15) – Sens. Schatz (D-HI) and Wicker (R-MS) led 28 bipartisan Senators in a letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) urging them to make permanent the provisions from CONNECT that were included in COVID-19 legislation – including to waive telehealth requirements under Section 1834(m) of the Social Security Act, allow FQHCs and RHCs to provide distant site telehealth services, and allow for the use of telehealth to conduct the face-to-face visit required to recertify a patient’s eligibility for hospice care. The Senators also called on the federal government to collect and analyze data on the impact of telehealth on utilization, quality, health outcomes, and spending during the COVID-19 pandemic. See press release.
Letter: (6/17) – Reps. Kustoff (R-TN) and Soto (D-FL) led 64 bipartisan members of Congress in a letter to Speaker of the House Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader McCarthy (R-CA) to extend the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) emergency telehealth waivers, including those for behavioral health, for a period of 22 months or longer. See press release.
Senate HELP Committee Hearing on Telehealth: (6/17) – Senate HELP Committee Chair Alexander (R-TN) called for two important temporary telehealth changes in federal policy be made permanent. In opening remarks, Sen. Alexander said the federal government should 1) permanently extend policy changes that allowed physicians to be reimbursed for a telehealth appointment wherever the patient is located, including the patient’s home, and 2) permanently extend the policy change that nearly doubled the number of telehealth services that could be reimbursed by Medicare. He said there were 29 other temporary federal policy changes that could also be considered for being made permanent.
Enhancing Preparedness Through Telehealth Act: (6/17) – Sens. Cassidy (R-LA), Smith (D-MN), Jones (D-AL), and Sullivan (R-AK) introduced the Enhancing Preparedness Through Telehealth Act (S. 3988), which would amend the Public Health Service Act with respect to telehealth enhancements for emergency response. See press release.
Equal Access to Care Act: (6/17) – Sens. Cruz (R-TX) and Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the Equal Access to Care Act (S. 3993), which would permit a licensed health care provider to provide health care services to individuals in one or more States in which the provider is not licensed. See press release.
KEEP Telehealth Options Act: (6/18) – Reps. Balderson (R-OH), Axne (D-IA), Williams (R-TX) and Gibbs (R-OH) introduced the KEEP Telehealth Options Act (H.R. 7233), which would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct studies and report to Congress on actions taken to expand access to telehealth services under the Medicare, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance programs during the COVID-19 emergency. See press release.
Telehealth for Underserved Communities Act: (6/18) – Sens. Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and King (I-ME) introduced the Improving Telehealth for Underserved Communities Act (S. 3998), which would simplify payments for telehealth services furnished by Federally qualified health centers or rural health clinics under the Medicare program. See press release.
S.3999: (6/18) – Sens. King (I-ME) and Young (R-IN) introduced S. 3999, which would ensure access to mental health and behavioral health services furnished through telehealth under the Medicare program. Bill text and press release have not yet been posted.
Legislative Framework on Broadband: (6/18) – House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Walden (R-OR) and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chair Wicker (R-MS) released principles for a legislative framework to expand broadband access and close the digital divide. The framework would, among other things, expand broadband access and digital opportunity and ensure that the FCC’s Telehealth Program has the necessary resources to make sure health care facilities have the appropriate technologies to treat patients remotely.