When the COVID 19 pandemic hit the U.S. and healthcare providers turned to telemedicine as a way to continue seeing their patients, the government acted to lift restrictions that limited access to telehealth. A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives is now hoping to make access permanent.
Last week, U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, introduced the Telehealth Extension Act, joined by subcommittee members Devin Nunes (R-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), and David Schweikert (R-AZ).
The bill hopes to end geographic and site restrictions on where patients can receive telehealth services. It also extends emergency rules that authorize a wide range of telehealth providers and services. The goal is to ensure that no one loses telemedicine access suddenly when the pandemic is no longer an emergency. “
As the pandemic enters an unpredictable new stage and emergency waivers may expire, patients and providers should not face a cliff of uncertainty,” said Representative Doggett in a press release. “This forward-looking bill, based on expert, independent recommendations, provides clarity, certainty, and a foundation for building a telemedicine system that expands access, preserves patient choice, and includes basic safeguards against fraud and exploitation.”
According to the press release issued by Rep. Doggett’s office, the Telehealth Extension Act would:
Many telehealth advocates have endorsed the bill. Groups include the National Rural Health Association, the American Heart Association, the American Nurses Association, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH), an organization Voice Products works closely with.
Voice Products also supports this legislation. As investors and partners in innovative telemedicine technology, we believe that all Americans should access quality care wherever they are.
“Telemedicine has been integral in ensuring patients continued receiving the care they needed all during the pandemic,” said Dean J. Tullis, President, and CEO of Voice Products. “We believe that telehealth is here to stay well after the COVID 19 emergency because of the benefits it to both patients by increasing accessibility especially in rural areas and to providers by saving costs.”
Voice Products offers telemedicine solutions that we can customize for any use case, from individual providers to hospitals and different specialties. We are now a Premier, Inc. contracted supplier for telemedicine, benefitting members of the leading healthcare group purchasing organization.