US lawmakers reintroduces a bill to protect access to telehealth beyond pandemic

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers reintroduced a bill that aims at expanding access to telehealth beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill titled the Protecting Access to Post COVID-19 Telehealth Act, was first introduced in July 2020, would help protect access to telehealth services after the pandemic through the following four provisions:

  1. Eliminate most geographic and originating site restrictions on the use of telehealth in Medicare and establishing the patient’s home as an eligible distant site of care.
  2. Authorise the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) to continue reimbursement for telehealth for 90 days beyond the end of COVID-19 pandemic. 
  3. Make the disaster waiver authority permanent, enabling the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) to expand telehealth in Medicare during all future emergencies and disasters. 
  4. Require a study on the use of telehealth during the current pandemic, including its costs, uptake rates, measurable health outcomes, and racial and geographic inequity. 

The bill is short of addressing issues such as coverage parity or interstate licensing issues.