ATA Congratulates Xavier Becerra Upon His Confirmation As Secretary of Health and Human Services

WASHINGTON, DC, MARCH 18, 2021 – The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) congratulates Xavier Becerra following today’s Senate confirmation as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“The ATA congratulates Secretary Becerra on his confirmation, at a time when our healthcare system – and patients in urban and rural communities, underserved populations and our most vulnerable citizens – need steady leadership, a clear vision and an innovative approach to curing what ails healthcare today,” said Ann Mond Johnson, CEO, the ATA. “There are many challenges ahead in creating more equitable, accessible and efficient care but we, like Secretary Becerra, believe that telehealth and virtual care services can offer critical solutions to deliver care whenever and wherever needed. We also support the expansion of broadband access to help close the ‘digital divide’ to address the inequities that currently exist in healthcare. The ATA remains available to work with Secretary Becerra, the Biden Administration and members of Congress to ensure that telehealth becomes a permanent treatment option for the millions of Americans who now rely on it for their care.”

During his confirmation hearing, Secretary Becerra testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, stating: “I wholeheartedly believe we’re going to be doing an expansion of telehealth. COVID has taught us so much. It’s also an issue of broadband. We must make sure communities have access to broadband. If we don’t learn from COVID that telehealth can help save lives, then we’re going to be in trouble. So, I think we’re going to advance.”

The ATA is urging the Biden Administration and the 117th Congress to support the following policies:

  • Permanently remove the geographic and originating site barriers in statute. The originating site should be wherever the patient is located, including but not limited to a patient’s home.
  • Remove provisions in law that mandate, for telehealth delivery of care or reimbursement, a prior in-person relationship between practitioner and patient.
  • Allow state licensing boards and practitioners to determine the appropriate standards of care for patients, including removing the in-person requirement for telemental health services in the recently signed Consolidated Appropriations Act.
  • Enhance HHS authority to determine appropriate telehealth services and providers.
  • Ensure Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) can furnish telehealth and receive equitable reimbursement.
  • Make permanent HHS’s temporary waiver authority for future emergencies.
  • Support existing fraud, waste, and abuse resources within HHS, including the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program.

About the ATA

As the only organization completely focused on advancing telehealth, the American Telemedicine Association is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to safe, affordable, and appropriate care when and where they need it, enabling the system to do more good for more people. The ATA represents a broad and inclusive member network of leading health care delivery systems, academic institutions, technology solution providers and payers, as well as partner organizations and alliances, working to advance industry adoption of telehealth, promote responsible policy, advocate for government and market normalization, and provide education and resources to help integrate virtual care into emerging value-based delivery models. @americantelemed #telehealthishealth #ATApolicy

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