According to a release from U.S. Representative, Mike Kelly, The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act has passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 416-12.
This bill contains identical language to U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly's (PA-16) legislation, H.R. 8491, which Kelly introduced alongside Reps. Brett Guthrie (KY-2) and David Valadao (CA-21).
H.R. 8491 would permanently expand the list of practitioners eligible who provide telehealth services to include qualified physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and audiologists.
Currently, these practitioners do not have permanent authorization to deliver electronic or virtual care to their patients.
Families have come to rely on telehealth since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, many of the authorities underpinning this care expire when the Public Health Emergency declaration does. Congress must act to preserve these authorities so that families, particularly in rural and underserved areas, have equal access to world-class health care.
“Americans across the country, especially rural areas, have seen the benefits of telehealth services following the COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors now have the convenience of seeing their doctor from the comfort of their own home. Families with children have new flexibility to work around their busy lives.” said Rep. Kelly. “I am pleased to lead the expansion of these critical services to cover more practitioners who play a vital role in caring for our communities. This bill makes great strides towards delivering modern solutions to our constituents’ future health care needs.”
“As I have said before, the genie is out of the bottle with telehealth after flexibilities were granted and the use greatly expanded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With many patients now finding telehealth technology beneficial for certain health care services, I want to ensure that telehealth is here to stay and that patients don’t lose access to their health care provider overnight once the Public Health Emergency expires. I’m proud to take needed steps to do this by supporting H.R. 8491, which would permanently expand the list of practitioners who are eligible to provide telehealth services,” said Guthrie.
“Many of my constituents in the Central Valley often live miles away from health care services or don’t have adequate transportation to seek medical care for themselves or their loved ones,” said Rep. Valadao. “Expanding these critical telehealth services permanently to include more practitioners will make accessing health care easier for patients in rural areas. I’m proud to lead on efforts to ensure these vital services are available for our rural communities even after the pandemic is over."