By: Rebecca Pifer
- Telehealth groups are cheering after a bipartisan group of 60 senators reintroduced the CONNECT for Health Act last week, which would make pandemic-era virtual care flexibilities permanent if passed.
- It’s the second time the bill has been reintroduced in Congress as proponents of virtual care look to solidify COVID-19 gains in telehealth accessibility and use before temporary flexibilities run out at the end of 2024.
- Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House.
Permanently expanding telemedicine access has broad bipartisan support in Congress. A number of bills have been introduced to codify more telehealth protections after COVID-19, including CONNECT, which is considered the most comprehensive virtual care legislation by advocacy groups.
Since CONNECT was first introduced in 2016, a number of the bill’s original provisions have been enacted into law or adopted as policy by the CMS, including in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as Washington threw open the doors to broader telehealth use. Then a 2022 spending package extended a number of the changes through Dec. 31, 2024, giving regulators and Congress more time to analyze telehealth efficacy in Medicare and make any desired COVID-era changes permanent.
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