Amazon, Cleveland Clinic + others urge Senate to expand telehealth flexibilities

Amazon joined hundreds of provider groups, hospitals and virtual care companies to send a joint letter to the U.S. Senate to pass a two-year extension of telehealth policies that were enacted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter, sent by a group of 375 organizations on Sept. 13, asked members of the Senate to pass legislation that would extend the COVID-19-era telehealth flexibilities for another two years for both Medicare and commercial market patients.

These flexibilities include provisions to waive provider and patient location limitations, remove in-person requirements for telemental health, ensure continued access to clinically appropriate controlled substances without in-person requirements and increase access to telehealth services in the commercial market, including for those with a high-deductible health plans coupled with a health savings account.

"Policy certainty beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency is essential to continuing access to telehealth for both Medicare and commercial market patients," the groups wrote in the letter.

The letter was led by health IT and telehealth lobbies, but was also joined by a number of health systems including Ascension and Cleveland Clinic, as well as companies such as Amazon, Google and Walmart.

Currently, the telehealth flexibilities are set to expire 151 days after the end of the public health emergency.

 

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