Telehealth is essential to care. The Senate must act this way.

The AMA and more than 300 physicians, healthcare, and other patient organizations invite the US Senate Follow the example set by bipartisan 416-12 Vote in the House of Representatives and continue regulatory flexibility and pay telehealth for at least two years.

Access through telehealth has been “transformative – patients now expect and often prefer telehealth as a key component of our healthcare system,” says the message (PDF), which notes that clinicians and other healthcare institutions “have been able to reach many patients who previously had barriers to access through virtual care.”

This is made possible thanks to the flexibility and waivers under the current declaration of a Public Health Emergency (PHE), but at the end of COVID-19 PHE, “the clock begins in the current 151-day statutory extension of telehealth waivers.”

That’s why the Senate should act this fall to follow the House’s lead and pass.”Telehealth promotion beyond the COVID-19 law“and also seek a permanent extension that includes provisions for:

  • Lift restrictions on the websites of patients, doctors or other doctors.
  • Remove personal requirements for telehealth.
  • Ensure continued access to clinically appropriate controlled substances without personal requirements.
  • Increase access to telehealth services in the commercial market.

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Looking for the long term

Neither patients nor physicians can any longer commit to short-term extensions. The letter stated that clinicians, practices, and healthcare organizations “must balance the costs of investing in the technological and clinical infrastructure required to maintain large-scale telehealth programs against the uncertainty of when telehealth policies will end.”

Meanwhile, patients using telehealth “face the prospect of involuntary return to in-person care.” This is particularly troubling for those who use it “to access experts at longer distances, to reach mental and behavioral health practitioners, and those who receive continuous telemedicine care for chronic conditions,” says the letter signed by the American Psychiatric Association, American Telemedicine Association. and the Diabetes Advocacy Coalition, among others.

“Virtual care is now an essential part of the US healthcare system, and will improve patient access to high-quality care and enhance continuity of care after the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the letter from the AMA and others.

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“While many of the most urgent clinical use cases for virtual care are only now emerging, more communities than ever have experienced the powerful impact that telehealth has had in closing gaps in care. Telehealth is helping to address the crisis level in Mental health, primary care and other workforce shortages.

“Many underserved communities that have historically had limited access to care can now provide additional support to their workforce as well as senior professionals to help save lives and treat critically ill patients,” the letter adds. “Unfortunately, without legal certainty for remote care, the serious work of building infrastructure, trust, and relationships with these communities is beginning to come to a halt.”

Discover nine key steps to Promoting equity in the emerging telehealth landscape.

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