18 Oct New Senate Bill Can Make It Easier for Doctors to Use Telehealth
Rising healthcare costs and a need for better treatment are motivating more hospitals and practices to seriously consider the benefits of telemedicine.
And why not – telehealth proved during the COVID-19 pandemic that high-quality physician/patient interactions were possible electronically, enabling better usage of healthcare facilities. Over time, telehealth has helped promote better patient/doctor connectivity, which has resulted in fewer hospital readmissions and patients adhering to their care plans.
Today, this evolving technology has made telemedicine easier, even for those who don’t consider themselves computer savvy. Patients can schedule and attend their appointments through the MyChart online platform or mobile app, and request a virtual visit with many doctors, practitioners, and therapists.
The CONNECT for Health Act Enables Telehealth for All
This past summer, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and a bipartisan group of 60 senators introduced the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act.
The CONNECT for Health Act of 2023 will expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors.
“Telehealth is helping people in every part of the country get the care they need, and it’s here to stay,” said Senator Schatz. “Our comprehensive bill will make it easier for more people to see their doctors no matter where they live.”
Three provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act were signed into law in 2020. As a result, there was a sharp rise in use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic as patients avoided traveling to hospitals and other health care settings and instead chose to receive care at home. Data shows that telehealth provides essential access to care with nearly a quarter of Americans accessing telehealth in the past month.
Prior to that, the CONNECT for Health Act was first introduced in 2016 and is considered the most comprehensive legislation on telehealth in Congress.
Since 2016, several provisions of the bill were enacted into law or adopted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, including provisions to remove restrictions on telehealth services for mental health, stroke care, and home dialysis.
The updated version of the CONNECT for Health Act builds on that progress and includes new and revised provisions that will help more people access telehealth services.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA-04), Doris Matsui (D-CA-07), David Schweikert (R-AZ-01), and Bill Johnson (R-OH-06).
The CONNECT for Health Act has the support of more than 150 organizations including AARP, America’s Essential Hospitals, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, and many more.
For a full list of the supporting professional organizations and to learn more about the new CONNECT for Health Act, click here.
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