New bipartisan bill introduced by Senators to protect rural telehealth access

Health and Wellness Informatics News

U.S. Senators announced their new bill to make the telehealth flexibilities permanent that includes the audio-only telehealth services.

It was in the past week while U.S. Senators introduced their new bipartisan bill. Under this bill, the act made on protecting rural telehealth access gets directly targeted. The bill aims to assure the underserved community healthcare providers continue to access virtual care. This new initiative also increases the reach beyond the limits of the public health emergency.

Jerry Moran, who introduced the bill, said, “Even after the pandemic ends, our health care system should bolster telehealth services as a reliable option to serve patients and help expand health care options and availability for rural America.” 

Sens. Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, D-West Virginia, R-Iowa, and Joni Ernst together co-sponsored the bill. It also holds various provisions which garnered support regarding various aspects over the past year.

The rural telehealth access act waives the geographic boundaries enabling Medicare patients to get treatment from home. It even lifts the “store and forward” technologies for health. Along with that, it allows Critical Access Hospitals to bill directly for telehealth services. 

Significantly, the bill even enables payment parity for audio-only healthy services for clinically approved appointments. Shaheen, in a statement, claims the expansion of telehealth services now allows Granite Staters to obtain the care without traveling anywhere. 

The CEO of ZoomCare, Torben Nielson, also said, “This is the next big step in the healthcare industry, ensuring quality care for all patients during pandemic and far beyond.”

Telehealth advocates pointed out that this bill will be up to Congress. They would further assure that the telehealth access gets maintained even after the public health emergency ends. 

Most importantly, the CONNECT for Health Act also stands first in April of the current year. It contains several similar provisions as the Protecting Rural Telehealth Access Act, which gained support from half the Senate. Ernst claims the success they evidenced earlier made them surer to make the changes permanent.

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