March 22, 2022
Many telehealth flexibilities are tied to the national public health emergency designation, which the U.S. is currently under and which is set to expire on April 16, unless renewed by President Joe Biden. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra on Friday made it clear that the department will remain committed to sustaining and expanding access to telemedicine after the public health emergency ends.
As quoted on modernhealthcare.com, Secretary Becerra said, "We would be really closing our eyes to a new form of quality healthcare if we did not expand authorities for telehealth to be available to Americans . . . That means giving providers and doctors more authority on what they can and cannot dispense both virtually and post the visit . . . We're going to work as aggressively as we can to get as much authority as possible so that the providers of that telehealth have an opportunity to save lives."
According to a report from the HHS Office of Inspector General released last week, telehealth proved critical to Medicare beneficiaries during the first year of the pandemic.
As reported on modernhealthcare.com, at least one more 90-day extension of the public health emergency is expected and Congress has extended Medicare coverage of telehealth services for 151 days past the end of the emergency. This provides some short-term relief from the potential of losing telehealth flexibilities that make the service so useful. However, more lasting changes are needed.
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