By Chris Mills Rodrigo – 06/15/20 04:48 PM EDT
A group of 30 senators from both sides of the aisle on Monday urged leadership to make permanent the expansion of telehealth services that has been undertaken during the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) calls for provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act included in previous COVID-19 legislation be extended after the public health emergency is over.
“Americans have benefited significantly from this expansion of telehealth and have come to rely on its availability,” said the lawmakers led by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). “Congress should expand access to telehealth services on a permanent basis so that telehealth remains an option for all Medicare beneficiaries both now and after the pandemic.”
Telehealth has grown in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic as a safer alternative to in-person visits.
The services help doctors work with patients diagnosed with COVID-19 without putting themselves at risk.
It also helps providers care for high-risk patients who might contract the disease if forced to leave their homes for medical visits.
Advocates say enhanced telehealth capabilities could result in improved service with lower fees even beyond the pandemic.
“Doing so would assure patients that their care will not be interrupted when the pandemic ends,” the senators wrote. “It would also provide certainty to health care providers that the costs to prepare for and use telehealth would be a sound long-term investment.”