“A recently submitted bill in the US Senate seeks to make permanent several emergency telehealth measures enacted during the pandemic.”
by Erik Wicklund
“A group of Senators has submitted yet another bill aimed at permanently extending Medicare coverage for certain telehealth services beyond the pandemic.
“The Protecting Rural Telehealth Access Act (S. 1988), introduced this week by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Terry Moran (R-KS), reportedly aims to improve access to and coverage of connected health services in rural parts of the country. It would continue several emergency measures enacted during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“In a press release, Manchin and his colleagues said the bill would:
- Allow payment-parity for audio-only telehealth services for clinically appropriate appointments;
- Permanently waive geographic restrictions in Medicare coverage, allowing patients to be treated in their homes;
- Permanently allow Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to serve as distant sites for providing telehealth services;
- Expand coverage for asynchronous (store-and-forward) telehealth services; and
- Allow Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to directly bill for telehealth services.”