Access to care is an essential barrier to addressing public health crises, and telehealth can play a critical role by offering a safe and cost-effective means of identifying and responding to public health needs during COVID-19. Many telehealth providers are already playing a key role in combating this public health emergency, enabling the timely and effective treatment of patients in quarantine and at home with telehealth and virtual care technologies. Telehealth can improve access to care, speed diagnosis and treatment, and limit the risk of person-to-person spread of the virus. We are inspired by the response of many in the telehealth community and remain committed to working with Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stem the growing public concern and combat the spread of COVID-19.
However, we believe Congress should provide the administration with as many tools as possible, including the ability to waive Medicare restrictions on telehealth to give healthcare professionals the support they need to effectively meet the urgent health needs of their communities. The telehealth restrictions currently in place for Medicare run the risk of slowing access to care for seniors in this critical time.
To address these barriers, the government has been urged to consider Sec. 9 of the CONNECT for Health Act of 2019 (S. 2741/H.R. 4932) in the upcoming COVID-19 supplemental legislation, which would empower the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive telehealth restrictions for Medicare beneficiaries during national emergencies. This provision would give the healthcare professionals we rely on the support they need to fully address this public health emergency and ensure we are leveraging all available resources to provide safe and efficient care to those in need.
Read the full letter signed by HIMSS, the Personal Connected Health Alliance, American Telemedicine Association, eHealth Initiative and the Health Innovation Alliance.