What telehealth flexibilities Congress is looking to extend

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are looking to expand the availability of telehealth, which includes telehealth for Medicare patients and access to virtual opioid use disorder treatments, Politico reported Sept. 14. 

In July, the House passed The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act, but the legislation must still be approved by the Senate and signed by the president in order for Medicare patients to continue using telehealth services through 2024. If not, those rules are set to expire in 151 days after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

That means after 151 days, most Medicare patients would have to visit a physician in-person before being able to conduct a virtual visit. 

Lawmakers are looking to extend that legislation beyond its expiration to allow virtual appointments to continue. 

In addition, lawmakers are looking to push for an extension on virtual opioid use disorder treatment and telehealth for the more than 30 million people on high-deductible health plans.

The high-deductible health plan rule allows insurers to offer virtual care before patients hit their deductibles, but that will expire at the end of 2022.

In addition, waivers allowing patients to skip in-person visits to get prescribed buprenorphine prescriptions for opioid use disorder, will also expire when the public health emergency does. 

According to Politico, language extending the telehealth rules will possibly move it onto a spending bill after the elections. 


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