U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), and Representatives Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) and Michael Guest (R-Miss.) today joined a bipartisan group of 49 lawmakers pushing congressional leaders to make permanent the telehealth services expanded temporarily to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawmakers signed a letter advocating action on telehealth services in end-of-year legislation considered by Congress this month.
“Telehealth has been a critical tool during the COVID-19 pandemic in ensuring that patients can continue to receive the health care services that they need while minimizing the spread of the virus and keeping health care providers and patients healthy and safe,” the lawmakers wrote.
“We continue to hear from our constituents and health care providers that the uncertainty about the long-term future of Medicare telehealth coverage is a barrier to organizations investing fully in telehealth. Congress needs to act now to better serve patients and health care providers during the pandemic, and to ensure that telehealth remains an option after the pandemic is over,” the letter stated.
The letter highlights the growing use and benefits of telehealth during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as patients seek to avoid traveling to hospitals and other providers and instead receive care at home. New data shows that the number of Medicare beneficiaries using telehealth services increased by nearly 13,000 percent in just a month and a half during the pandemic.
This spring, Congress enacted provisions from the bipartisan, bicameral Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act to expand telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries and to allow more types of health care providers to provide telehealth services. Those provisions are only temporary through the extent of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The Mississippi lawmakers cosponsored the bipartisan, bicameral CONNECT for Health Act, which is considered the most comprehensive telehealth legislation in Congress. Forty-six Senators have cosponsored the Senate bill (S.2741), while 68 Congressmen cosponsored the House measure (HR.4932).
A signed copy of the letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is available here.
Release from Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Congressmen Trent Kelly and Michael Guest.