McKinley Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Secure Telehealth Services for Rural Americans

Bill expands scope of providers who are eligible for Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services

WASHINGTON D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) introduced the Expanded Telehealth Access Act. This bipartisan legislation expands the list of the providers eligible for Medicare reimbursement providing telehealth services. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expanded the types of health care providers who receive reimbursement for telehealth services. This legislation makes permanent the reimbursement eligibility for physical therapists, audiologists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists.

“During the COVID pandemic, healthcare providers adapted and provided telehealth services to serve the needs of millions of vulnerable Americans,” said McKinley. “Telehealth services have been beneficial to the health and well-being of America’s seniors and after the public health emergency ends, it’s crucial that critical access to telehealth does not abruptly end. This bill ensures seniors continue to receive quality, accessible care now and after the pandemic.”

Joining Reps. McKinley and Sherrill as original cosponsors are Representatives Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Don Young (R-AK), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Sanford D. Bishop (D-GA), Jr., Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), and Andre Carson (D-IN).

Background:

According to the CDC, telehealth services have been particularly valuable for vulnerable populations, especially those with compromised immune systems or in rural areas far from a provider. The CDC also notes that expanded telehealth availability is likely to increase health equity.

The Expanded Telehealth Access Act is supported by American Telemedicine Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, eHealth Initiative and Foundation, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and PCHAlliance.

Read the full bill text here.

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