On the heels of a raging pandemic and a terrible recession, Americans deserve to maintain the greater access and choice in the health care they relied on to get through the pandemic.
Telehealth is a crucial tool to increase access to health care for patients. During the pandemic, the average national weekly telehealth users jumped from 13,000 to 1.7 million. Without further congressional action, many patients would lose the option to use telehealth 151 days after the end of the Public Health Emergency.
That’s why the House today passed H.R. 4040, which includes many provisions found in Rep. David Schweikert’s (R-AZ) “Greater Access to Telehealth Act” (H.R. 8489). Rep. Schweikert’s bill, however, includes even more provisions from Ways and Means Republican members that extend telehealth. In a late afternoon vote, Democrats rejected these expansions.
The Greater Access to Telehealth Act:
- Extends the telehealth provisions included in H.R. 4040 for four years instead of just two.
- Includes an important bipartisan provision that allows some 32 million employees across the country to access affordable telehealth services through their Health Savings Accounts.
- Democrats rejected these commonsense provisions.
Rep. Schweikert spoke on the floor about his bill, and issued this statement:
“Developing telehealth technology and increasing access to care is one of the most important feats we can achieve in modern healthcare. I’m disappointed to see bipartisan efforts to protect certain provisions that benefit millions of Americans cast aside by Democrat leadership. But this bill is a step in the right direction. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides to improve this critical healthcare tool in this Congress and beyond.”
The Greater Access to Telehealth Act provisions include the following legislation from Ways and Means members:
- Republican Leader on the Health Subcommittee Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL): H.R. 8493: Permanent removal of originating site and geographic site restrictions for telehealth services.
- Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA): H.R. 8491: Permanent expansion of list of practitioners eligible to provide telehealth services to include qualified physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and audiologists.
- Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC): H.R. 8506: Permanent extension of telehealth services for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs).
- Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK): H.R. 8497: Permanent delay of the Medicare in-person requirements for mental health services delivered through telehealth.
- Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO): H.R. 8515: Permanently allows the continuation of coverage and payment of telehealth services provided using audio-only technology.
- Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV): H.R. 8505: Permanent continuation of allowing certain hospice recertification visits to be done virtually.
- Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE): H.R. 7876: Another comprehensive alternative bill to extend telehealth that also includes additional rural health provisions.
- Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH): H.R. 5541: An extension of the policy allowing high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to provide first dollar coverage for telehealth services.