HIMSS has co-led a letter to congressional leaders signed by 430 organizations urging policymakers to build on the temporary telehealth expansion waivers enacted in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE).
The flexibilities, enabled by bipartisan legislation signed into law in March 2020, have allowed clinicians to scale delivery and provide all Americans access to high-quality virtual care. Healthcare organizations have dramatically transformed and made significant investments in new technologies and care delivery models to meet COVID-19-driven patient demand and to prepare for future healthcare needs.
However, many of the telehealth flexibilities are temporary and limited to the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. If Congress does not act before the end of the PHE, many Medicare beneficiaries will lose access to these vital virtual care options.
The letter calls for Congress to advance permanent telehealth reform focused on specific priorities:
- Removing arbitrary restrictions on where a patient must be located in order to utilize telehealth services
- Ensuring federally qualified health centers, critical access hospitals, and rural health centers can furnish telehealth services
- Authorizing the Secretary to allow additional telehealth practitioners, services, and modalities
- Removing restrictions on telemental health services
The letter to Congress was co-led by the Alliance for Connected Care, American Telemedicine Association, Consumer Technology Association, eHealth Initiative, HIMSS, Health Innovation Alliance, Partnership to Advance Virtual Care, and PCHAlliance.