Lawmakers set sights on telehealth as a way to strengthen and preserve Medicare

Both Democratic and Republican legislators want to further expansion of telehealth services, especially for Medicare beneficiaries, according to a report in The Hill, which held a virtual event on April 29 that included industry leaders and lawmakers.

Earlier this week, CMS Administrator Seema Verma made waves when she hinted at the future of telehealth for CMS beneficiaries. During the pandemic, CMS relaxed requirements for telehealth and expanded coverage and virtual visits for beneficiaries grew from 100,000 per week to 300,000 per week.

"I think the genie's out of the bottle on this one," Ms. Verma told the Wall Street Journal. "I think it's fair to say that the advent of telehealth has been just completely accelerated, that it’s taken this crisis to push us to a new frontier, but there's absolutely no going back."

Here are three key quotes from legislators, as reported by The Hill:

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.): "[The pandemic] is really changing, I think, not only healthcare for seniors during this pandemic, but for everybody. And I believe that as we move forward, this is going to be one of the things we can look at as changing healthcare."

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio): "We've got to strengthen and preserve [Medicare]. One way we can do it is through telehealth…We had some provisions in the phase one supplemental that broke down some of those barriers [to telehealth], so that Medicare providers could offer telehealth services and get paid for their services. We need more of that kind of thing if we're going to continue to bring healthcare into the 21st century."

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.): "This is a new thing for all of us, and the only way to get to the conclusion is, we gotta work together, and that's the challenge."

More articles on telehealth:
CVS MinuteClinic launches virtual visits in DC, 33 states
Mayo physicians virtually join New York clinicians on COVID-19 patient rounds
The 8 hospitals that have received the most funding from FCC's COVID-19 telehealth program

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