WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressmen David Schweikert (AZ-06), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Mike Kelly (PA-16), and Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced the introduction of the Safe Testing at Residence Telehealth (START) Act. This bipartisan legislation would provide robust at-home COVID-19 testing for seniors and other vulnerable populations
“The coronavirus pandemic has brought on unprecedented challenges for all Americans, particularly our vulnerable, senior populations who are most at risk for contracting COVID-19 and have continued to stay isolated from family and friends,” said Schweikert. “One area where we have seen incredibly positive changes has been for seniors utilizing telehealth and at-home care tools, with growing appreciation for the flexibility and comfort this care can provide. I am proud to introduce this legislation to continue our much-needed expansion of healthcare technology and I am hopeful this can be included in any future COVID-19 relief to support our seniors and vulnerable populations working to stay healthy and safe.”
“I am pleased to join Congressman Schweikert, Congressman Kelly, and Congressman Thompson in introducing this critical legislation, which will make testing more accessible and safer for seniors in my district and around the country,” said Rush. “Robust testing is key to ensuring those exposed to this dreaded disease receive timely treatment and prevent the spread to others.”
“Telehealth is revolutionizing medical care. Virtual appointments and remote patient monitoring are allowing Americans to receive top quality care in the comfort and safety of their own homes. This technology will allow seniors to be tested for COVID-19 from their living rooms, and this bill will expand access to this vital service,” said Kelly.
“As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to impact us all, I am focused on ensuring that everyone can get the health care they need through telehealth, to fight the spread of the virus and keep people safe,” said Thompson. “That’s why I am proud to join with Rep. Schweikert as co-chairs of the Telehealth Caucus to introduce this bill to help seniors get a COVID-19 test at home using telehealth. I look forward to working to pass this bill and continuing to increase the use of telehealth both now, and beyond our current crisis.”
“We commend the sponsors of this common sense legislation to encourage safe and convenient testing, while avoiding unecessary exposure to the health care system where spread of Covid-19 is more likely and costs are higher.” said Joel White, Executive Director, Health Innovation Alliance.
Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Family Foundation have found that U.S. adults age 65 and older account for roughly 16 percent of the population and 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths.
The Safe Testing at Residence Telehealth Act of 2020 would amend the Social Security Act by adding coverage and payment for Medicare beneficiaries to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved at-home tests. The approved tests would help diagnose or discount a diagnosis of COVID-19 or other similar respiratory infection and be done in conjunction with an assistive telehealth consultation.
Through this legislation, seniors will be able to safely consult with their physician from the comfort of their home. Relieved of risking exposure or coordinating transportation, families and health officials will now have more complete data to act on. Seniors prove to continue adapting to the new models of care made available thanks to generous telehealth waiver restrictions. From January to June of 2020, 43 percent of Medicare nationwide primary care claims have been through telehealth.
To read the full text of this legislation, click HERE.
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