HHS secretary nominee pledges support for permanent telemedicine expansion: 4 details 

President Joe Biden's nominee to lead HHS, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, signaled his support for permanent telehealth expansions this week during his Senate confirmation hearing, Politico reports. 

Four details: 

1. Mr. Becerra said he is committed to permanently expanding the payment policies that have been passed during the pandemic to increase telemedicine access. 

2. Telehealth will be a key component of Mr. Becerra's strategy for decreasing health inequities, particularly in remote areas where it's difficult for people to get in-person access to care. 

3. Mr. Becerra noted the pandemic is one of the driving forces behind virtual care accessibility and growth: "[I] wholeheartedly believe that we're going to be doing an expansion of telehealth," he said. "COVID has taught us so much. … If we don't learn from COVID how telehealth can help save lives, then we're in trouble. So I think we're going to advance." 

4. If Mr. Becerra is confirmed, he will still need Congress to push forward telehealth policies that have been extended during the pandemic. Since last March, CMS has expanded the number of services Medicare will cover to more than 140 when provided via telehealth during the pandemic. 


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