The ATA Appreciates MedPAC Recognizing the Importance of Telehealth and the Need for Policy Changes to Ensure Continued Access to Telehealth for Seniors

MedPAC survey found that 90% of Medicare beneficiaries were satisfied with telehealth

WASHINGTON, DC, MARCH 16, 2021 – The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) appreciates that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), in their March 2021 report to Congress on Medicare payment policy, recognized the importance of telehealth during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) and the need for policy changes to ensure access to telehealth post-PHE. In their report, MedPAC references telehealth benefits including “improved access to care for those with physical impairments, increased convenience from not traveling to an office, and increased access to specialists outside of a local area.” The report also cited MedPAC’s annual beneficiary survey, stating that “over 90% of respondents who had a telehealth visit were ‘somewhat’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their video or audio visit, and nearly two-thirds reported being ‘very satisfied.’”

“The ATA applauds MedPAC for recognizing the important role telehealth has played during the public health emergency, and that telehealth must continue to provide convenient, secure and quality care to our nation’s Medicare beneficiaries, including those in rural and underserved communities. We couldn’t agree more with MedPAC that Congress must not allow our aging population to fall off the telehealth cliff if access to virtual care ends with the public health emergency,” said Ann Mond Johnson, CEO, the ATA. “Importantly, MedPAC rightly advises that Congress should give the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) the authority to pay for telehealth services provided to all Medicare FFS (fee-for-service) beneficiaries regardless of geographic location, including those at home. We also applaud MedPAC for identifying audio-only interactions with a healthcare provider as an appropriate way to deliver care.

“At the same time, we do not entirely agree with some of the policy recommendations made in the report, including inaccurate assumptions about legitimate telehealth services. It is essential, as recently pointed out in a statement from the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), that we must differentiate ‘telefraud’ and telemarketing schemes and legitimate telehealth services in order to dispel concerns around the safety and effectiveness of telehealth,” Mond Johnson added. “In addition, the report calls for an extension of ‘some elements of the telehealth expansion’ rather than permanently covering telehealth services. We strongly believe that, rather than a temporary extension of flexibilities, Congress should permanently remove existing statutory barriers to ensure Medicare recipients are able to receive care where and when they need it. The ATA looks forward to continuing to work with CMS and Congress to enact commonsense Medicare reforms to ensure beneficiaries continue to access telehealth post-PHE.”


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 healthcare 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