$2 trillion stimulus package includes $185M for telehealth at critical access hospitals

The House on March 27 approved a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package that the Senate passed on Wednesday, which will provide $185 million to support telehealth programs for rural critical access hospitals. 

In addition to telehealth support, the legislation will provide funding for hospitals, emergency loans for small businesses, enhanced unemployment insurance and financial assistance to Americans through direct checks to households.

Here are five things to know about the telehealth provisions in the final Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

1. The CARES Act provides $275 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration, including $185 million to expand telehealth services at rural critical access hospitals.

2. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will receive $27 billion in funding to support research and development of vaccines, diagnostics and increased telehealth access infrastructure, among other initiatives.

3. The stimulus package also expands Medicare telehealth coverage and reimbursement to qualified providers as well as Medicare telehealth flexibility to kidney dialysis providers.

4. The bill provides an estimated $117 billion for hospitals, according to the American Hospital Association.

5. The American Telemedicine Association commended Cogress for approving the stimulus package on March 27. In an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review, Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the ATA, said: "We believe the bill reflects the scale of challenges we face as a country and recognizes that expanding virtual care is necessary to defeat COVID-19. We commend Congress for recognizing the power of telehealth, and the bipartisan effort to lift telehealth barriers in the Medicare program while prioritizing federal funding for telehealth access and infrastructure during this emergency."

Editor's note: This article was updated at 2:15 p.m., CDT, on March 27 to include the House's approval vote of the stimulus package. 

More articles on telehealth:
7 states waiving telehealth restrictions during coronavirus pandemic 
Premera Blue Cross expands telehealth offerings, waives costs for COVID-19 virtual visits
New Jersey hospital uses 'video robot' in pop-up tents outside ER

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