Sherrill Teams With Okla. Republican On Medicare Telemedicine Bill

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Mikie Sherrill town hall on MyVeronaNJ.comRep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ11) and Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK01) introduced the bipartisan Protect Telehealth Access Act today to build on telehealth’s proven success during the COVID-19 pandemic by codifying Medicare reimbursements for telehealth services. The Protect Telehealth Access Act removes the requirement that an individual receiving telehealth services must be located in a rural area or health professional shortage area, and that an individual may only receive telehealth services at home in certain limited circumstances.

“We’ve seen the benefits of expanded telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of making sure access to care is available if patients have to stay at home,” said Rep. Sherrill. “That value won’t go away when the pandemic ends. I’m working with Representative Hern to ensure Medicare beneficiaries do not lose access to these important services.”

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued an array of temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to equip the American healthcare system with flexibility to respond to the pandemic. These actions have, among other things, increased access to telehealth in Medicare to ensure patients have access to physicians and other clinicians while staying safe at home.

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Before COVID-19, Medicare beneficiaries could only receive coverage for telehealth visits under specific or unique circumstances — for example, if a patient lived in a rural area far from a doctor’s office. However, federal policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed Medicare recipients to increase access to necessary health services. The use of telehealth services during this crisis has further exhibited the pivotal role technology can play in improving health equity — for vulnerable populations this type of access to health care can be a lifeline.

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