Members of the House and Senate Telehealth Caucus last week introduced the CONNECT for Health Act (S.1512/H.R. 2903), AHA-supported legislation that would permanently remove all geographic restrictions on Medicare telehealth services and expand originating sites to include home and other sites. The bill also would expand telehealth for emergency medical care; waive restrictions on telehealth use during national and public health emergencies; and allow rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers to serve as distant sites, among other provisions.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has provided a critical way for patients to continue to access needed care,” AHA said in a letter of support to the sponsors. “We applaud the introduction of this bill, which proposes many changes that would allow for increased access to telehealth services for patients and use by hospitals and other providers, while removing barriers to adoption.”
AHA also urged Congress to work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ensure that Medicare provides adequate reimbursement for telehealth services to all sites of care.
“For providers to be able to continue delivering high-quality patient care through telehealth and other virtual services, they need appropriate reimbursement for the substantial upfront and ongoing costs of establishing and maintaining their virtual infrastructure,” the letter notes.