ATA Supports The Bipartisan Protecting Access To Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act Of 2021 Reintroduced By The Congressional Telehealth Caucus

WASHINGTON, DC, JANUARY 25, 2021 – The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) voiced its strong support of the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2021, which was reintroduced this week by Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05), Co-Chair of the Congressional Telehealth Caucus, along with caucus Co-Chairs Rep. David Schweikert (AZ-06), Rep. Peter Welch (VT-AL), and Rep. Bill Johnson (OH-06), and caucus member Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-06). This bipartisan bill would permanently  ensure access to telehealth after the COVID-19 public health emergency by eliminating restrictions on telehealth in Medicare beneficiaries and requiring a study on its use during the pandemic.

“For decades, the Medicare statute has severely limited telehealth services while other payers increasingly relied on telehealth to provide care to patients when and where they need it. This disparity has become shockingly clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, when in-person care has not been an option for most patients,” said Ann Mond Johnson, CEO, the ATA. “While Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services acted quickly to implement waivers to allow for the reimbursement of telehealth services during the COVID19 public health emergency, older adults will lose access to this important care unless Congress again takes decisive action. We applaud the perseverance and continued leadership of Representatives Schweikert, Thompson, Welch, Johnson, and Matsui to ensure our citizens have access to much-needed telehealth services following the public health emergency.”

This bipartisan bill was first introduced in July 2020 and was praised by the ATA in a letter to the Telehealth Caucus, signed by the ATA and 340 national and regional organizations. The current legislation includes four major and vital provisions to ensure all Medicare beneficiaries continue to have access to important telehealth services:

  • Eliminating most geographic and originating site restrictions on the use of telehealth in Medicare and establishing the patient’s home as an eligible distant site so patients can receive telehealth care at home and doctors can still be reimbursed.
  • Preventing a sudden loss of telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries by authorizing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) to continue reimbursement for telehealth for 90 days beyond the end of the public health emergency.
  • Making permanent the disaster waiver authority, enabling Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand telehealth in Medicare during all future emergencies and disasters.
  • Requiring a study on the use of telehealth during COVID, including its costs, uptake rates, measurable health outcomes, and racial and geographic disparities.

“This legislation is an important step towards breaking down discriminatory geographic restrictions and adding a flexibility for the HHS Secretary to include additional originating sites. Effectively and permanently addressing health disparities is urgently needed – and telehealth can bridge existing gaps to provide care to patients in rural and underserved communities, when and where they need it,” added Mond Johnson.

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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Media Contact:

Gina Cella
Cella Communications