US lawmakers look to expand access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Some members of Congress want Medicare’s new access to telehealth to remain even after the pandemic.

“I think it’s become clear to so many Americans the value of telehealth because of this crisis,” Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger said.

Spanberger is cosponsoring the “Connect” Act, to make Medicare reimbursement for telehealth, mental health and other services permanent.

“To ensure that Medicare patients have the same access to the same sort of options that VA patients may have, or those who have private insurance may have,” Spanberger said.

The bill also removes current restrictions on services received inside a patient’s home.

“And that pretty much defeats the purpose of having telehealth services available if one cannot use them from one’s home,” Spanberger said.

Spanberger is not alone, with representatives on the other side of the aisle recognizing the need to guarantee telehealth for the long term.

“I think we do need to lean into this effort to reduce and remove unnecessary regulations, especially those that get in the way of seniors accessing healthcare,” Virginia Rep. Ben Cline said.

Cline says seniors in rural areas are especially at risk.

“Telemedicine is the future of healthcare in rural areas, where we not only struggle to provide the needed services but struggle to attract providers to this area,” Cline said.

Cline says broadband expansion will also make Medicare services more accessible for seniors now and in the future.

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