New bill aims to make lasting changes to existing telehealth regulations
One significant area of change in healthcare throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been changes in the regulation of telehealth. This enables patients to more easily obtain orders for clinical tests and can allow for the remote ordering of tests, potentially increasing test volumes.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is seeking to make permanent these changes that relax the regulations governing telehealth services. A new bill introduced to Congress, H.R.7663 – Protecting Access to Post-COVID–19 Telehealth Act of 2020, would make these changes law, protecting recent advancements in telehealth.
4 Telehealth Changes Specific to H.R.7663
- Establish individual patients’ homes as eligible distant sites so patients can receive telehealth care in their homes while providers can still be reimbursed;
- Prevent a sudden loss of telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries;
- Make the current disaster waiver authority permanent, and enable the US Department of Health and Human Services to expand telehealth in Medicare during any future emergencies; and
- Require a study on the use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study would include its costs, uptake rates, measurable health outcomes, and racial and geographic disparities.
This bill is a reintroduction of a bill that was introduced too late in 2020 to complete the legislative process. It is unclear how likely the bill is to receive the support it needs to become law, but its bipartisan origins could increase the likelihood of its success.