Washington – Wyoming Congresswoman and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) issued the following statement after introducing The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act, legislation that will continue the telehealth policies implemented by the Trump Administration and through the CARES Act, while advancing access to emerging technology for seniors especially in rural areas:

“This bill will allow seniors to utilize telehealth services even after the emergency declaration has ended. COVID-19 presented unprecedented challenges, one being the facilitation of a safe environment for our seniors to receive high quality health care. Congress has worked with the Trump Administration to remove many of the barriers that prevented seniors from utilizing telehealth services from the safety of their homes.  As a result, telehealth use among seniors has continued to rise and this legislation would continue this successful trend well after the pandemic is over, while allowing Medicare to adapt to the ever-changing innovation in medical technology.” 

Representative Greg Gianforte (R-MT), Representative David Kustoff (R-TN), and Representative Jason Smith (R-MO) are serving as original co-sponsors of this legislation. 

Upon introduction of the bill, the Wyoming Hospital Association issued the following statement:

“Wyoming Hospital Association is very grateful that Congresswoman Cheney is bringing this legislation forward.  Access to care by utilizing RHCs and FQHCs to deliver telehealth has been one of the good things to come through COVID.  In a rural state these healthcare delivery locations are incredibly important in allowing patients to receive care and having adequate and allowable reimbursement for these services makes incredible sense.  We have learned a great deal during the pandemic and access to care while keeping people in their communities is extremely important.”

In addition, the Wyoming Primary Care Association also issued support for this legislation, stating the following:

“The Wyoming Primary Care Association supports this bill as an important step in the delivery of healthcare through telehealth. Wyoming federally qualified health centers located in some of the most rural parts of the U. S. moved quickly to provide care to their patients through telehealth during the pandemic. We thank Congresswoman Cheney for her bill to make the telehealth waivers permanent.”

BACKGROUND:

The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act will allow the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to waive the originating site and geographical limitations beyond the public health emergency period that was specified in the CARES Act. Before this waiver went into effect, Medicare beneficiaries who wanted to utilize telehealth services could only do so at a designated “originating site” and only in the event of a physician shortage.

The bill would also make permanent the telehealth coverage at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health Clinics (RHC). This will give rural providers the ability to serve patients remotely while being properly compensated for their work.

Finally, the bill removes restrictions that limit health care providers’ ability to provide access to smart devices and innovative digital technology to their patients. Allowing Medicare providers to remotely monitor and track their patient’s health will improve quality of life while reducing costly trips to the emergency room.  

The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act has the support of the Connected Health Initiative (CHI), who’s steering committee consists of the American Medical Association, Apple, Bose Corporation, Boston Children’s Hospital, Cambia Health Solutions, Dogtown Media, George Washington University Hospital, Intel Corporation, Kaia Health, Microsoft, Novo Nordisk, The Omega Concern, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, Podimetrics, Rimidi, Roche, United Health Group, the University of California-Davis, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) Center for Telehealth, the University of New Orleans, and the University of Virginia Center for Telehealth.